Going the distance with Cuesta reaching extra innings twice over three games, Valley moves on to the next round of playoffs.
By Nicholas Orozco, Sports Editor
After nearly driving home, freshman Luis Torres and sophomore Brandon Cuervo gave the Monarchs a four-run inning to advance to the second round of CCCAA playoffs.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the entire program,” said head coach Dave Mallas. “It’s tough to do what they did on Saturday, win two in a row in the fashion that they did.”
Valley College (25-18, 14-7 WSC South) visited Cuesta College (25-16-1, 17-7 WSC North) in the first round of playoffs for a three-game series. Playing in all three games and reaching extra innings twice, the Monarchs come out on top to advance.
The offensive power of both schools showed in game three of the series.
Striking first in the second inning, freshman Alex Hagan struck first for Cuesta. He hit a single that brought in sophomores Dalton Cram and Zachery Tallerman, taking the lead 2-0.
The lead shortly lasted, as freshman Max Aude responded immediately after. After a single and a series of walks that loaded the bases, Aude was up to bat. The lefty swung at a pitch and destroyed it, hitting a grand slam that brought in Cuervo and sophomores Bobby Velasco and Tyler Olivas.
The hosting team would score one run in the sixth and seventh inning to tie the matchup at four.
In the eighth inning, freshman Luis Torres would give the Monarchs a short-lasting lead after knocking a single that cashed in Aude.
The Cougars responded in the bottom half of the eighth with a double off the bat of sophomore Aidan Weinstein, scoring Cram, tying the game once again at 5-5.
With neither team scoring in the ninth, they went into extras.
With Aude getting on from a double and a walk to sophomore Will White and sophomore Elvis Park getting plunked, the bases were juiced for Torres. Hitting into a fielder’s choice that produced an error, Torres reached base that allowed Aude to cross home to take the lead 6-5.
Freshman Tino Valdez followed by hitting into another fielder’s choice, this time getting the force out at home. He handed the baton to freshman Royce Clayton Jr. who would pop out.
Sophomore Brandon Cuervo would step up to the plate, with bases loaded and two outs; every baseball player's dream situation. Enjoying every second of it, Cuervo doubled. Clearing the bases by scoring Valdez, Park and sophomore Jack Coscolluela pinch-ran for Torres.
“Walking up to the plate, I wasn’t really thinking, the pitch came and I kind of blacked out,” said Cuervo regarding his extra-inning heroics. “When I came back to it I was standing on third and the dugout was going crazy.”
The Monarchs led 9-5 heading into the bottom half of the tenth.
With runners on the corners for Cuesta, sophomore Ethan Royal hit a single that brought in sophomore Brayden McCoy, cutting the deficit 9-6. That was the final run the Cougars brought in.
Games one and two were pitching duals, game one having neither team score up until the bottom of the tenth inning on a walk-off single. This allowed Cuesta to take game one. Game two saw Valley take charge early, scoring one run in the first and second inning. That would be all they needed as the pitching staff shut out the Cougars, winning 2-0.
“Couldn’t be prouder of him [Cuervo],” said the head coach about the late-game performance of his outfielder. “We struggled all weekend with two outs and base hits to get runs. He did it with two outs and the bases loaded in the biggest moment of our season.”
Valley will now move on to the Super Regionals round of playoffs. Winning the first game against East LA College 16-1. The Monarchs will now face Fullerton College in a best-of-three series today at 11:00 a.m., Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and at 2:45 p.m. if necessary.