It was a battle of top squads on Thursday afternoon as the No. 3 Riverside City College Tigers hosted the No. 2 Cypress College Chargers in Orange Empire Conference (OEC) action at Evans Sports Complex. Both squads displayed formidable pitching lasted throughout the duration of the contest, but it was the Tigers who were able to etched the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning leading to a 3-2 conference win.
Sophomore southpaw David Barela (Redlands, CA) climbed the hill for his second start of the season with a tall task in front of him. In only his second start of the season, he was masterful through eight innings as he changed speeds well, pounded the strike zone, and located to the tee. He allowed just two runs – one being unearned – while striking out seven batters. His location was the most impressive aspect of his outing as he did not allow one free pass and fanned seven batters.
The Chargers struck first in the top of the fourth inning to grab a mere one-run lead, but the Tigers promptly answered in the bottom half of the inning with a sacrifice fly from sophomore center fielder Erick Rayford (Chino Hills, CA), scoring sophomore third baseman Daniel Martinez (Riverside, CA) to tie the game at one all.
The Tigers continued to chip away and boasted a strong eye at the dish in the bottom of the sixth inning. They worked the bases loaded with one out and eventually pushed another run across the plate after freshman right fielder Junior Coleman (San Diego, CA) drew a bases-loaded walk to snag a 2-1 lead.
Riverside added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning due to savvy base running. D. Martinez connected on a check-swing that forced a slow dribbler down the third base line. Sophomore left fielder Joseph Hodapp (Murrieta, CA), who reached on a double, forced an errant throw by the third baseman allowing him to scurry home.
After Barela worked a flawless eighth inning, freshman closer Graham Kuck (Corona, CA) came in and slammed the door by forcing a double play ball and a ground out leading to the 3-2 victory.
Barela earned his second win of the season while Kuck recorded his fourth save of the year.
Rayford led the offense by going 2-for-2, while sophomore shortstop Shane Martinez (Riverside, CA) and D. Martinez each barreled one hit.
The Tigers (14-5, 1-1 OEC) will look to take the three-game series against Cypress (14-4, 1-1 OEC) in a rubber match on Friday, March 9 on the road at a time to be determined. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, but it was moved up in the week due to potential rain in the forecast.