Moorpark Baseball walks it off after early-game struggles

Freshman+Noah+Balandran+pitches+a+ball+during+Moorpark%27s+home+game+against+Fullerton+College+on+Thursday%2C+Feb.+13.+Photo+credit%3A+Evan+Reinhardt

Freshman Noah Balandran pitches a ball during Moorpark’s home game against Fullerton College on Thursday, Feb. 13. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Leslie Mendez

After a struggle to earn runs early on in the game, the Raiders celebrated an 11-10 walk-off win to erase a nine-run deficit against Fullerton College on Feb. 13 at the Moorpark College baseball field.

Starting the game off slow, the Raiders went scoreless in the first four innings and left many batters in scoring position, resulting in a 4-0 deficit.

“It’s something we haven’t been doing a good job of, leaving guys on base and not getting them in,” Moorpark Head Coach Mario Porto explained.

After the rocky start, sophomore center fielder Leighton DeMello hit an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning to drive in freshman left fielder Dylan Leek to home plate. Being one of four RBIs for DeMello, he finally put the team on the board with his ability to find gaps in the infield.

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Freshman Trenton Packard slams a ball during his at bat against Fullerton College on Thursday, Feb. 13. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

“Just staying positive, and doing anything to help is great,” DeMello said, describing his ability to make the first run and help get the team on the board.

The Raiders pitching struggled to hold down the Hornets for the next two innings, giving the opposing team a total of six earned runs and a score of 10-1.

Despite Fullerton’s strong offense in the first seven innings, the Raiders came back and turned the game around. With a bases-loaded situation, Moorpark forced a run with a walk by sophomore first baseman Alex Vega.

DeMello’s hit by pitch at-bat drove in another run, increasing the Raiders deficit to 10-4. To follow, freshman third baseman Albery Prado hit an RBI single to send freshman catcher Trenton Packard home.

To end the inning, Vega scored on a catcher’s error to extend the score to 10-6. With only a four-run deficit, the Raiders remained motivated entering the ninth.

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Sophomore Patrick Valdez bunts the ball for single during Moorpark's home game against Fullerton College on Thursday, Feb. 13. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Bats woke up at the bottom of the ninth for the Raiders and they capitalized on Fullerton’s shaky pitching. With bases loaded, Packard hit an RBI single to drive in sophomore shortstop Cameron Kinser. DeMello stepped up to the plate and contributed to the hitting streak by hitting a two-run RBI, making the score 10-9.

Freshman designated hitter Dylan Swanson came into the game and hit a big RBI single to tie the game. Due to Fullerton’s pitching error during the play, DeMello was able to advance to home plate and end the game with an 11-10 lead.

“We didn’t stop, we kept playing,” Coach Porto stated. “We didn’t swing at bad pitches, we took our walks when we needed to.”

Porto was not too impressed with the first half of the game but congratulated sophomore pitcher Aaron Wagner on his outstanding performance.

Aaron Wagner’s ability to secure the last two innings of the game helped boost the offense to come on top. He came in confident regardless of the circumstances.

“You have to treat it like it’s a 0-0 game. Treat like it’s a brand new season for us and never try to be overconfident and come out ready to play,” Wagner said.

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Freshman Noah Balandran pitches a ball during Moorpark's home game against Fullerton College on Thursday, Feb. 13. Baladran led the team's pitchers in strikeouts, with seven. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Wagner pitched two scoreless innings to close the game, giving himself his first win of the season.

The Raiders stayed hopeful and motivated throughout the game, proving that they could fight until the end.

Moorpark’s next game will be held away on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 1 p.m. versus LA Harbor College.