Baseball: Comeback complete as Falcons win in 11 innings

Gabe Gonzalez slides under the tag to score the game-winning run
Gabe Gonzalez slides under the tag to score the game-winning run

Trailing 6-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Cerritos College baseball team scored twice in the eighth and ninth innings before winning, 7-6 in 11 innings. The win by the #1-seeded Falcons (30-11) gives them a 1-0 series lead over #17-seeded Los Angeles Pierce College (21-18) in their best-of-three series of the Southern California Regional Playoffs. Game two is slated for 11:00 a.m. at Kincaid Field on Saturday. If a third game is needed, it will be played 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

In the bottom of the 11th inning, freshman outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez (Santa Fe HS) led off with a double down the left field line past third baseman Brandon Lewis. Facing Barrett Vondereau, sophomore outfielder Nick Penzetta (Kamehameha, HI HS) singled to left field, with Gonzalez racing home to slide under the tag for the winning run.

The win over the Brahmas was the first home field playoff win for the Falcons since 2014, which was also against LA Pierce. Cerritos entered the day on a three-game post-season home losing streak. The 30-win season is also the first for the Falcons since 2008.

After they pulled to within 6-4 on a two-run, two-out double by sophomore second baseman Jesus Mercado (St. John Bosco HS) in the eighth inning, the Falcons extended the game with two more runs in the ninth inning. Freshman first baseman Michael Gonzalez (St. Bernard HS) led off with a bloop single and then advanced to second when Gabriel Gonzalez drew a full count walk. That ended the day for relief pitcher Nick Rincover, and brought on Vonderau. Penzetta advanced both runners with a beautiful sacrifice bunt, which set the table for sophomore designated hitter Jakob Gonzalez (La Mirada HS/San Jose State University). He drove the first pitch to right field, which plated Michael Gonzalez. Noticing that LA Pierce right fielder Diego Harris was still holding onto the ball, Gabriel Gonzalez didn't slow down and scored without a throw.

Sophomore closer Edgar Velasquez (Montebello HS) came in for freshman Eric Winchester (Diamond Bar HS), who kept the Brahmas hitless for 3 1/3 innings. Velasquez (4-2) gave up a pair of hits, but struck out both Lewis and Gabe Cartier to end each inning. Sophomore starting pitcher Gilbert Romero (Alhambra HS) only allowed one run through five innings, but he gave up five hits and walked three, as his pitch count went over the century mark. Romero also struck out eight batters.

LA Pierce did their damage in the sixth inning, as Brenden Levalle greeted sophomore relief pitcher Carlos Valle (Bell Gardens HS) with a two-run home run, while Lewis capped off his outing with a three-run home run.

Mercado, Gabriel Gonzalez, Penzetta and Jakob Gonzalez all collected a pair of hits for the Falcons in the win.

Photos by Daryl Peterson