Home, sweet home

Thomas Chavez (5) runs through the third base.

Isaac Gutierrez and George Garcia

The Golden Eagles started California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play with a trio of victories in this past weekend’s four-game homestand against Cal State Monterey Bay. A lights-out bullpen was key for the black and gold, only allowing runs in the second game. Right-handed pitcher (RHP) Fino Amador proved to be a great weapon, accumulating three holds in the series. 

Game 1: Feb. 14  @ 6 p.m.

RHP Saxon Andross’ impressive start to the season continued as he pitched more than seven innings and gave up only one run. More importantly, Andross was able to limit traffic on the bases, allowing only six runners to reach a base.

The Golden Eagles’ offense struggled for the first four innings as they hit three singles but failed to score runs. However, Cal State LA pushed through in the fifth inning, taking the lead off a 2-RBI (runs batted in) double by catcher Noe Garcia.

These two runs proved to be all that the home squad needed, but third baseman Randy Buenrostro managed to pad the lead with an insurance run and score via a fielding error by the opposing center fielder, Kyle Guerra. 

With a lead heading into the ninth, the Golden Eagles handed the ball over to their closer, RHP Micah Hee. After giving up a leadoff single, Hee got the next three batters out in consecutive order, securing the save and the 3-1 victory. 

Game 2: Feb. 15 @ 1 p.m.

For Cal State LA, it was a game to forget, heading into the double header.

The Otters overwhelmed the Golden Eagle’s pitching, accumulating 22 total hits in the game. It was a tough outing for starting pitcher Christian Longoria, who gave up seven runs in his second start of the season.

Despite the bad day on the mound, head coach Vince Beringhele showed confidence in the junior after the game. 

Without any bullpen action, RHP Brent Jacques came in dealing, getting out of a tight jam with the Otters. Unfortunately, Jacques struggled ending the game with four pitched innings, giving up five runs on eight hits. 

The black and gold failed to capitalize with men in scoring positions. 

On four occasions, Cal State LA had players in scoring positions and failed on three, capitalizing on their only run of the night during the eightH inning. 

It was too late for the eagles as the Otters would scoreD the last run in the top of the ninth for a final score of 13-1. 

Game 3: Feb. 15 @ 4 p.m. 

The Golden Eagles bounced back in game two of their double header; polar opposite of what the fans at Reeder Field experienced earlier in the day. 

The Cal State LA bats came alive in the second inning after two early runs from the Otters in the top of the inning. The quick strike from Cal State Monterey Bay was reminiscent of game one, but it turned out it was simply two offenses coming alive.

Cal State LA’s starting pitcher, right hander (RHP) Travis Burleson brought the heat in the first inning looking to set the tone against Cal State Monterey Bay.

When asked about his performance grade (out of ten) for the night he said, “Six or a seven. In my head, I don’t believe today was my best, but there’s always another week and another day of baseball.”

The momentum quickly shifted as the Otter defense committed three errors and Cal State LA capitalized on these mistakes. Left fielder Johnny Pacheco owned the inning, as his two runs batted in and came off of a left-field bomb that traveled 350 feet.

The Otters offensive output brought them within striking distance with the score 5-4, narrowly in favor of the Golden Eagles. Burleson’s struggles came during the second and third innings but a combination of defense, composure and the home crowd kept the momentum going for Cal State LA.

The offense was feeding off of the energy at Reeder Field, putting up another sensational offensive output in the bottom of the third, which coach Beringhele attributed to “the guys just [getting] back to being themselves.”

Travis Burleson went five complete innings with only four runs on seven hits, a pitch count of 104 and two strikeouts. Burleson left the mound to cheers from a raucous Reeder Field crowd. 

The freshman and senior combination of Fino Amador and Micha Hee blanked the Otters in the last two innings of the game as the Golden Eagles defeated the Otters 8-4.  

Game 4: Feb. 16 @ 11 a.m.

Cal State LA had a late offensive surge for a comeback win to best Cal State Monterey Bay in the series. 

After a nightmarish first inning to the game that put them in a 4-0 hole, the Golden Eagles chipped away at the lead to ultimately overcome the deficit. 

RHP Garrett Boyce struggled with his command early on, walking two batters and committing a hit by pitch. To add insult to injury, a three-run double by the Otters had them up 4-0 after one inning. 

The black and gold responded with one run in their half of the second inning to begin chipping away at the Otters’ lead. 

After being down 5-2 heading into the seventh inning, the Golden Eagles took a 6-5 lead after second baseman Ryan Lewis scored off a fielder’s choice groundout by third baseman Randy Buenrostro. 

The following inning played out similarly, as the first three Cal State LA batters reached. The first two who reached scored via wild pitches, and shortstop Tyler Odekirk rounded off the scoring after an RBI-double by first baseman Aaron McCann cashed him in. 

RHP Micah Hee entered the contest in the ninth to shut the door on the series, but the Otters had one last fight in them. 

A lead-off walk started the inning, followed by a hit by pitch. The next batter singled to load the bases with no outs. A single to left field moved the runners up one base a piece, allowing the boys in gold to score one run. The Golden Eagles then turned a double play, essentially trading in two outs for a run. With the tying run batting and two outs, Hee got the batter to ground out to shortstop Odekirk, securing the series victory and pushing Cal State LA to a 3-1 CCAA record (4-4 overall). 

Cal State LA will play Cal Poly Pomona for a four-game split-site series next weekend. The Golden Eagles previously lost to the Broncos in their last meeting. They have a 7-3 record in their last ten meetings against Cal Poly Pomona.