Led by Ayers and Veloz commanding the strike zone and a strong offense providing six runs and 14 hits, the Monarchs extended their win streak to eight.
By Nicholas Orozco, Special to the Star
The Monarchs earned a hard-fought victory Thursday afternoon, as the entire team worked together and rallied behind freshmen pitchers Kyle Ayers and Danny Veloz to win 6-3.
Newly ranked at No. 23 in California, Valley College baseball (23-11, 9-6 WSC South) entered the matchup against Pierce College (7-25, 4-14 WSC North) enduring a seven-game winning streak, but after defeating the Brahmas, the Monarchs expanded their run to eight.
Freshman pitcher Kyle Ayers started on the bump for the Monarchs and managed to pitch a total of four innings, striking out six hitters and only allowing two runs to come across. The right-hander was then relieved by freshman pitcher Danny Veloz, who hurled the remaining five innings, only giving up one run and matched Ayers by also throwing six strikeouts.
“It feels good, you know. The team looked good today,” said Veloz after the game. “I was just trying to get my defense the ball and it worked out today”
The game began with a breath-holding moment on the field. A soaring pop-up was about to fall between freshman right fielder Grant Rasmussen and freshman second baseman Jack Coscolluela in short right field. Both players made an attempt to catch the ball and the two collided — Rasmussen was unintentionally kicked in the head by his teammate, which knocked him unconscious and potentially gave him a concussion in the process.
“You know you never wanna see that happen. We were very pleased to know that he was able to get up and walk off on his own.” said coach Dave Mallas. “We knew he was shaken up and hopefully it’s just a concussion.”
Rasmussen was taken to the hospital and was replaced by freshman outfielder Yeonwon Jeong in right field.
“I was trying to play strong,” said Jeong. “I was sad because I lost my teammate.”
The Brahmas struck first, adding insult to injury in the bottom of the first when they scored a run off a double down the left-field line.
Valley responded immediately in the top of the second, starting the frame off with a double from freshman left fielder Andrew Howe, who usually appears as a relief pitcher for the Monarchs.
Jeong followed the double by laying down a successful bunt-single. Howe advanced to third and scored on a safety squeeze from freshman first baseman Tyler Olivas — using the small ball to manufacture a run.
Valley added to its lead in the top of the fourth. Jeong reached on an error from the Brahmas’ third baseman and followed it up by stealing second base.
With two outs, Olivas laced a double that deflected into foul territory off the third baseman. The right-handed hitter’s two-bagger scored the Korean from second and gave the Monarchs a 2-1 lead.
The Brahmas tied it up quickly thereafter. With runners on first and second in the bottom of the fourth, a line drive into right field scored the runner from second and tied the game at two.
In tug-of-war fashion, Valley managed to break the tie and reclaim the advantage. Beginning the attack was freshman center fielder Lee Brandzel, who hit a double. Sophomore designated hitter Connor Kelly scored the cleanup-hitting slugger, ripping a triple into center field to break the tie and give the Monarchs a 3-2 advantage.
Jeong launched off the top of the sixth, earning a base hit through the left side of the infield. Coscolluela then hit a bunt to advance his teammate to third. Freshman second baseman Bryant Colon stepped up and hit the ball out of the reach of the right fielder, allowing Jeong to come home.
After Pierce cut the lead to one in the bottom of the sixth, Howe brought freshman catcher Gravelle home with a single into left field after the latter hit a double into left field.
Howe added on in the top of the ninth, hitting a hard single, allowing Brandzel to score from second, making the final score 6-3 for the Monarchs.
The Monarchs will kick off a three-game series against first-place Glendale College Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.