Kyle Ayers’ pitching performance spearheads Monarchs to a 5-2 victory

Freshman shortstop Maddox Latta earned two RBIs, while freshman first baseman Tyler Olivas and freshman designated hitter Joshua Wood batted in a run each.

By Nicholas Orozco, Special to the Star

Valley College freshman right-hander Kyle Ayers releases a pitch against West LA College on Thursday afternoon. Ayers pitched 6.0 innings while allowing two runs and striking out eight. (The Valley Star / Jose Callejas)

The Monarchs pitching identity was on full showcase Thursday afternoon as they held the Cougars to two runs and came away with their second-straight victory.

In their last home game of the regular season, No. 24 ranked Valley College baseball (24-14, 10-9 WSC South) hosted West LA College (8-28, 4-15 WSC South), looking for its second consecutive win in an effort to bounce back from being swept in the previous series against Glendale College. With freshman right-hander Kyle Ayers setting up the Monarchs for a victory through his two-run pitching performance, Valley was able to finish its home slate with a 5-2 win.

Valley College freshman third baseman Dorian Asher gets set ready to field the ball against West LA College on Thursday afternoon. (The Valley Star / Jose Callejas)

“We have to sweep these guys, job is not done," said coach Dave Mallas after the game. "We’re two-thirds of the way there. Last home game [of the regular season], we wanted to make sure we had a [win].”

Valley College freshman pitcher Kyle Ayers readies to pitch from the stretch against West LA College. Ayers helped the Monarchs defeat the Cougars with his 6.0 innings on the mound. (The Valley Star / Jose Callejas)

Ayers, who pitched 6.0 innings — 4.1 of which he hurled without allowing a hit — only allowed two hits and two runs while striking out eight batters. Freshman relievers Andrew Howe and Xavier Dubon closed the contest, pitching 1.0 and 2.0 innings of scoreless work respectively, the latter receiving the save.

“It’s honestly great, having the results play for themselves,” said Ayers after the game. “My pitches felt great the whole time.”

Freshman first baseman Tyler Olivas started the scoring in the bottom of the third, hitting a ground ball to the shortstop for an RBI as freshman catcher Miles Gravelle touched home to put Valley on the board, 1-0.

In the bottom of the fourth, freshman third baseman Dorian Asher started a rally with a double into the left field gap. Freshman designated hitter Joshua Wood hit a single through the left side, moving Asher to third.

Freshman left fielder Elvis Park followed up the hits with a safety squeeze, allowing Asher to come home and make the score 2-0.

West LA took advantage of a scoring opportunity in the top of the fifth, hitting a single into left field to score two runners and tie the game. But immediately after the Cougars’ rally, the Monarchs responded and took back the lead.

Valley College freshman first baseman Tyler Olivas holds the runner at first before the pitch is thrown. Olivas earned an RBI on a groundout and hit a triple which led to the Monarchs' game-winning run. (The Valley Star / Jose Callejas)

Olivas started the bottom half of the fifth with a triple down the left field line. This brought up freshman shortstop Maddox Latta, who hit a sacrifice fly deep into center field, allowing Olivas to tag up and come home — placing the Monarchs ahead 3-2.

Valley tacked on two more in the bottom of the seventh. Latta hit a triple into the left center gap, allowing freshman second baseman Brandon Cuervo —- who reached on a single up the middle —- to score with ease. Replacing Wood at the plate, sophomore Jonathan Castenada entered as a pinch hitter and fulfilled his job by connecting for a single up the middle, allowing Latta to come home and make the score 5-2 — a score which would hold and give the Monarchs a much-needed victory for their playoff hunt.

“It adds a lot of confidence, going up there and knowing my team will put up runs,” said Ayers. “I just need to keep doing my thing and my team will do the rest.”

Valley will travel to West LA Friday at 2:30 p.m. to close out the regular season.

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