Baseball: Season - and career - comes to an end with loss

Ken Gaylord (seated) meets with his team after they were eliminated from the post-season
Ken Gaylord (seated) meets with his team after they were eliminated from the post-season

Not only did the Cerritos College baseball season come to an end with their 7-5 loss to visiting El Camino College on Saturday, so did a career. The Falcons (31-13), seeded #1 for the Southern California Regional Playoffs, were eliminated by #11-seeded El Camino College (28-17) in two games. The loss also marked the end of a career for head coach Ken Gaylord, who had announced his retirement earlier in the season. Gaylord, who spent 25 years at the helm, retires with 647 wins in the Falcon pinstripes and 784 career wins (he spent six seasons as the head coach at Long Beach City College). Gaylord led his Cerritos teams to 10 conference championships (13 overall) in his combined 31 years as a head coach.

Rollie Nichols shares a moment with retiring head coach Ken Gaylord Cerritos took a 4-1 lead in the top of the second inning against El Camino, but saw the Warriors put five runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning. For the Falcons in their four-run inning, sophomore second baseman Jesus Mercado (St. John Bosco HS) and freshmen catcher Andre Alvarez (Walnut HS) led off with consecutive base hits. Freshman first baseman Michael Gonzalez (St. Bernard HS) advanced them with a sacrifice, with freshman outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez (Santa Fe HS) loading the bases with a walk. Sophomore outfielder Nick Penzetta (Kamehameha, HI HS) grounded to third baseman Diego Alarcon, who threw home for the force out. But catcher Jose Ruiz, Jr. dropped the ball, allowing Mercado to score.

Sophomore designated hitter Jakob Gonzalez (La Mirada HS/San Jose State University) gave the Falcons a 3-1 lead with a two-run single, while sophomore third baseman Jorge Rodriguez (Bellflower HS) followed with an RBI base hit. The Falcons left runners on first and third, but held the early lead.

Sophomore starting pitcher Valentin Flores-Gomez (Gahr HS), who hadn't appeared in a game in a month, struggled in each of the three innings and two batters into the fourth inning. Flores-Gomez surrendered a single run in the first inning and ended up allowing five hits and three walks. He was replaced in the fourth inning by sophomore Vincent Fuentes (El Rancho HS) after giving up back-to-back singles to start the fourth inning. Fuentes was also slow to start, as he gave up four base hits to the first five batters he faced, which accounted for the five runs for the Warriors.

The Falcons got to within 6-5 after Mercado drove in sophomore outfielder Rollie Nichols (Serra HS) with a base hit in the fifth inning. They were able to load the bases in the inning, which chased starting pitcher Daniel Alvarez. Max Pappas came on and struck out Penzetta to end the Cerritos threat. They also left runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings. Mercado hit a one-out triple in the ninth inning, but could not be brought home.

Photos by Daryl Peterson