Moorpark Raiders rout Bakersfield Renegades in double-header opening day


Moorpark pitcher Lance Kinross throws a pitch to a batter during the home game against the Bakersfield College Renegades on April 10, 2021. Moorpark College beat Bakersfield College 7-0 in the first game of the season after a year long hiatus due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Mitchell Ross

The sun was high in the sky as the Moorpark College Raiders took on the Bakersfield College Renegades in a double-header to open up the abridged 2021 season.

Fans were not in attendance for either of the double-header games as Moorpark College is operating under COVD-19 guidelines. Still, both players and coaches were glad to see the opposition as it meant that school sports are back for the first time in almost a year and a half.

The Raiders tallied seven runs on eight hits off against Renegade’s pitchers in game one. Two RBIs came off the bat of sophomore infielder Daniel Jaggard, who went 3-3 on the day.

Raider pitching led the way in game one as they shut out Bakersfield 7-0 in seven innings. Sophomore pitcher Lance Kinross picked up the pitching win, tossing five scoreless innings, striking out three and walking two batters. Sophomore Garret Yawn surrendered three hits in two scoreless innings of relief.

It was a dream game to open the season for Moorpark College. More important than the game itself was the ability to see the opposition in the opposing dugout.

Moorpark College Raider Nate Martinez scores the first run of the 2021 season against the Bakersfield College Renegades on April 10, 2021. It is the first run since the 2020 season was cut short in March due to the pandemic. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Head Coach Marion Porto elaborated on the successes of the day.

“The biggest win yesterday was that we were able to play the game of baseball,” stated Porto. “Being able to put on uniforms and compete against another school was the most enjoyable part of the day for me. I was pleased with the way we played. We pitched well and played good defense in both games.”

The defense certainly took center stage in the second game of the double-header. The game was scoreless through five innings, and in the top of the sixth, Bakersfield was threatening to score.

Enter sophomore center fielder Noah Gonzalez. On a line drive hit to center, Gonzalez fielded the line drive grounder and threw put the Renegade runner on his way to home. Gonzalez unleashed a laser throw from the outfield to beat the runner home with ease and preserve Moorpark College’s shutout.

Later in the bottom of the sixth, Gonzalez had an opportunity to move some Raiders over on the base path with a sacrifice bunt. Bakersfield would field the bunt and make a throwing error trying to beat Gonzalez to the first base. A run scored on the error and Gonzalez reached base.

Moorpark Raider Shane Leong-Grieger swings at a pitch during the home game against the Bakersfield College Renegades on April 10, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Raider sophomore pitcher DJ Vergini spoke on the impact of good defense from a pitcher’s perspective.

“Look at how hard they work in the field and work as hard as they do,” began Vergini. “It motivates us to take care of them. We trust them, and we work hard for them. We all trust each other. Whoever gets the ball, we know that they will make the play. It fires you up as a whole staff. We play for the name on the front of our jerseys, not the name on the back. It’s something that Porto preaches for this team.”

Good defense often leads to good offense, and the Raiders pushed across three runs in the sixth.

Vergini picked up the three-inning save of game two, striking out three to solidify the Raiders 4-0 win, their second of the day and the season.

Raider sophomore Noah Balandran pitched a gem in game two, going six strong shutout innings, striking out four and only allowing four hits.

Trent Packard slides into third base at the first game of the season against the Bakersfield College Renegades on April 10, 2021, at Moorpark College, CA. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

The theme of the day was fundamental baseball. The Raiders played small and ran the bases well on Saturday and stole seven bases between the two games.

This is the brand of baseball that Porto likes to manage and the style of play that highlights his team’s biggest strength early on—teamwork and trust.

“We’re very team-oriented,” explained Gonzalez. “We like to bunt and squeeze. The situations we practice in practice are more stressful than the game. We master them in practice, so we execute in the game. When you prepare at game speed, game speed gets slower and slower. As a defender seeing our pitcher pitch well and not give up walks makes you want to play hard for them and back up your teammate.”

The team roster is deep and many players are returning after the 2020 season was abruptly halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The returners have a fire in their chests as they thought last years’ team could have won the Western State Conference.

The Raiders are out for revenge, and they are hungry to win it all in 2021.

The next Moorpark College baseball game is on Thursday, Apr. 15 at home versus Ventura College.