Despite Danny Veloz pitching 5.0 innings without allowing an earned run, the Monarchs’ bullpen could not keep the game within striking distance against the Renegades.
By Nicholas Orozco, Special to the Star
In a quick offensive start to the game, Valley College fell behind in the first and attempted to take the lead throughout, but Bakersfield continued to add on damage, eventually taking the 7-3 victory.
Splitting the series heading into Saturday, the Monarchs (15-10, 4-5 WSC South) pushed themselves in an attempt to take game three and the series against the Renegades (7-19, 2-7 WSC South), but Valley couldn’t crack the code against Bakersfield’s pitching.
With seven pitchers called on in the first two legs, coach Dave Mallas called on freshman righthander Danny Veloz to start the third game. The starter earned the win on Mar. 18 against Citrus College after hurling 5.0 innings and tried to replicate his performance against the Renegades.
From the get-go, two infield errors and a balk allowed runners to get to second and third with no outs. Veloz walked the next runner to load the bases and Bakersfield proceeded to hit a double over freshman center fielder Yeonwon Jeong’s head, scoring two runs. Another runner came home on a fielder's choice to second and Bakersfield grabbed an early 3-0 lead.
“I knew it was nothing special,” said Veloz postgame. “They got one bunt hit or an error you can call it, then another error. I knew the game plan we had, we had to attack them.”
Freshman second baseman Jack Coscolluela led off the bottom of the third inning with a four-pitch walk and subsequently stole second. A bullet hit into left field by freshman shortstop Maddox Latta put runners on first and third as the Monarchs looked to turn the game around.
Freshman first baseman Tyler Olivas followed up Latta with a bunt and reached safely, scoring Coscolluela from third. Freshman right fielder Joshua Wood kept the rally going later in the frame, bringing home Latta on a hit-by-pitch as the Monarchs cut the score to 3-2 before the fourth.
After Veloz’ troublesome first inning, the righty went into cruise control – pitching four scoreless innings before being relieved by freshman left hander Josh Eigenbrodt in the top of the sixth. All three runs he allowed were unearned.
“My [gameplan] game was just to throw strikes, be efficient and let my defense play.” said Veloz postgame. “It was a rough start but after that [outing] it felt pretty good.”
After the Monarchs made it a one-run game, the Renegades stretched their lead in the top of the sixth. Following an RBI single, the Renegades catcher Xabi Iparraguirre managed to steal second, reaching third and home on errors and expanding their lead to 5-2.
Freshman left-hander Andy Rodriguez entered in the top of the seventh and immediately hit Renegades’ shortstop Gillermo Monje with a pitch. This came back to bite the reliever, as Monje advanced to second on a passed ball and took third on a perfectly-placed bunt.
Freshman catcher Robert Velasco attempted to pick off the runner stealing second, but threw the ball into center field, allowing Monje to come home.
A sacrifice fly brought home another run, making the score 7-2 as Bakersfield started to run away with the ballgame.
Down five runs, the Monarchs needed to string together a late rally.
Olivas led off the bottom of the eighth, hitting a single into center field. After Freshman third baseman Lee Brandzel was walked, Wood hit a sac fly to the center fielder, scoring Olivas and cutting the deficit to four.
But Valley could not tack on any more runs as they dropped their second-straight contest to Bakersfield.
“They played better than we did in two of the three games,” said Mallas. “It’s very disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. We got to take the day off Sunday, come back Monday. We got Mission. It’s not going to get any easier, so we need to go win that series and play better, cleaner baseball.”
The Monarchs will travel to Mission College Tuesday for their fourth conference series. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:30.
Contributions by Edward Segal