The Vaqueros completed their season sweep of West L.A. College, 6-2 at Stengel Field last Friday due to the excellent pitching performance of starting pitcher Michael Mendoza.
Mendoza displayed impeccable control and confidence as he struck out six batters and held the opposing team to four hits in seven innings of work.
“He has pitched well out of the bullpen, racked up a lot of strikes and now as a starter he has done well for us,” said Vaquero head coach Chris Cicuto.
During certain situations in the game, Mendoza showed the type of strength that is shown in pitchers that are destined for the next level. In the top-half of the second,
Mendoza gave up hits to the first two batters. After flying out the next batter to left, Mendoza stayed focused and struck out the last two batters of the innings.
“He showed confidence and has great composure, which is what’s expected out of our starting pitchers,” said Cicuto. “He doesn’t get shaken up with runners in scoring position.”
In the top third, West L.A. second baseman, Vince Valdez got things going with a quick base hit up the middle. Seconds later, Valdez got a quick jump on Mendoza to steal second base and once again, West L.A. was in scoring position for the second consecutive inning.
After a walk of the next batter, West L.A. had runners on first and second base. As Mendoza stepped on the mound, he turned his body around and looked back the runner. Valdez took off for third but Mendoza was there to pick him off for the first out of the inning. The inning ended with the last two batters striking out and leaving West L.A. with runners on base and nothing to show for it.
As the game progressed, both teams had the capability of scoring, but poor base running, good defense, and exceptional pitching made it difficult.
The bottom of the fifth began with a bang as the Vaqueros took the plate. Infielder
Mathew Magallon was the leadoff hitter for the inning and started with a hard liner to left field. It was followed up with a single to left by infielder Jean-Carlos Fernandez, which moved Magallon to third. It was the first time in the game, a player reached third successfully.
“Fernandez went right side to move Magallon to third, and that’s a great job of playing baseball,” said Cicuto.
The nightmares kept coming for West L.A. as they threw the ball to the backstop twice to allow the Vaqueros to score on both occasions. Additionally, there were two errors in the inning that resulted in scores and after the fifth; the Vaqueros lead 5-0.
Another key point in this Vaquero victory was the amount of patience at the plate. The offensive lineup squeezed out seven hits, drew seven walks, and held up on three passed balls.
“The lasts two games we’ve been talking about patience at the plate, don’t swing at balls out of the zone and getting a pitch you can hit”, said Cicuto.
Vaquero infielder Lazaro Fonta went 2 for 3 with a run scored and two walks. Fonta was the stand out player at the plate and was one of the three players to cross the plate on a wild pitch.
The Vaqueros ended the game with Mendoza on the bench, and relief pitcher Byron Pacheco shutting down West L.A.
“This victory should give us a lot of confidence and hopefully we’ll be able to finish off the season strong,” said Cicuto. “We have 12 games left in the season and still got a shot for a spot in the conference playoffs.”
The Vaqueros have been plagued with injuries and inconsistency out of the bullpen. The team is 12-18 overall and 7-10 in conference play.
The next game for the Vaqueros will be at Bakersfield on Thursday at 6 p.m.