The onset of spring highlighted the blades of green grass at Stengel Field when Glendale met Victor Valley College on Saturday.
After some smack talk, wild pitches and collisions at home plate, GCC pulled out a 9-8 walk-off win over the Rams.
Glendale came out very sluggish and went down 3-1 early in the game. With four errors in a little over four innings, the Vaqs defense forced the offense to struggle.
“We came out and didn’t really play very smart baseball at all,” head coach Chris Cicuto said.
Slideshow Media Credit: Kathy Bakowicz
After the Rams capped on another, the Vaqs found themselves down 4-1 after four.
The fifth inning is when GCC shook off some of the rust. Spearheaded by third baseman Nick Padilla, the Vaqueros knocked two with the bases loaded to come within one. With no outs, catcher Lino Lares grounded out to second with an RBI to tie the game at 4-4.
“I just felt comfortable,” said Padilla. “I wanted to come up big for the team.”
After five, Glendale was looking at a draw. With runners at the corners, infielder David Garcia bolted towards home plate after a Vaquero hit. Like a bullet train, Garcia rounded the bases with one more obstacle in his way, the Rams catcher. Like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, the two men collided.
In baseball, the catcher is allowed to block the plate to prevent the runner from scoring. Rams catcher Tyler Kelly was steamrolled by Garcia. The impact was so strong, the GCC training staff headed to the field. Led by head trainer Claudia Alvarez, they checked and remained with Kelly for almost five minutes. After the Vaqs scored two more runs and a Victory Valley pitching change, the inning was over.
After a quiet seventh inning, Victory Valley surged back in the eighth and ninth. It began with a solo home run in the eighth to center by Rams infielder Chris Solis. Coach Cicuto made a pitching change to 6-foot-4 inch right hander Carl Daniels. After allowing four runs, GCC came up to bat at the bottom of the ninth with an 8-8 tie. When Tinjaca came up to bat, the Vaqueros had two runners on base when he hit a little blooper into the hole over third base to lift the Vaqs over the Rams.
‘I knew the curveball was coming,” said Tinjaca. “I saw the outfielders playing in so I just had to hit it out there
It pushed the Vaqueros to 2-3 on the year after a loss on Feb. 1 to Rio Hondo.
“The war of attrition,” said Coach Cicuto. “Though, when opportunities came up, we cashed in.”
Glendale went on to beat Riverside in their next game 6-2 and look to take on Saddleback on the road on Feb. 11.