Late-game heroes save Brahmas

Philip George, Spring 2009 Assistant Sports Editor

Pierce College locked horns with the Oilers of West Los Angeles College on Saturday at Joe Kelley Field and erupted for 15 runs, just enough to edge out a 15-14 win in a thriller of a game.

Nick Devian led the way with a walk-off base hit up the middle in the last of the ninth.

“Anytime you win, it feels great,” said Devian, “so it was good to get in a dogfight and come out on top.”

Pierce ace Cameron Collard started the game and was immediately knocked around for four runs in a first inning highlighted by back-to-back home runs by the Oilers’ Dylan Cohen and Ricky Gutierrez.

The Brahmas came back with three runs of their own, however, thanks to a couple of wild pitches by from Pierce when West L.A. posted consecutive two-run frames in the fourth and fifth innings, knocking Collard out of the game with a line of 10 hits and six earned runs in only four and two-thirds innings.

J.C. Urso relieved Collard and struck out second baseman Vince Valdez to escape the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, with the Brahmas trailing 8-4, Jason Bamarsse and Culver reached base on back-to-back infield singles before Will Myrick cashed in Bamarsse with a stretch double to right.

After a walk to catcher Steve McGrath loaded the bases, Josh Reece, who had an injury scare merely an inning before but refused to come out of the game, drove a Stuart Boardman offering down the left field line, emptying the bases and tying the game at eight.

“I was just trying to find a pitch early, a fastball, get a hold of it, found the fastball in and took advantage of it,” said Reece.

The Oilers reclaimed the lead in the sixth on an RBI single by Mark Sunga, but aided by two defensive miscues in addition to their timely hitting, Pierce put up a five spot in their half of the sixth to take their first lead 13-9.

A controversial call on a botched rundown play in the top of the seventh allowed West L.A. to rally for five more runs and take the lead 14-13, resulting in the ejection of Pierce head coach Joe Arnold for arguing the call.

The Brahmas remained resilient, and with two outs in the seventh, Calvin Culver sent Kesley Kondo’s first pitch sailing over the center field wall to tie the game at 14. “I had to pick my teammates up,” Culver said. “I was a leader. I felt like I had to do that, so I just got my pitch and drove it.”

Matt Nesbit shut down the Oilers in the eighth and ninth innings to set the stage for the late-game heroics.

Duncan worked a base on balls leading off the bottom of the ninth, and with Devian at the plate, stole second and third, and after working a full count, Devian singled up the middle for the walk-off win.

“I was just trying to hit something up the middle,” Devian said.

“We talk about it all the time – runner on third, you just want to try and hit something up the middle.”

“Baseball is a game that will really test you,” Arnold remarked. “It’s going to test you down to your core and it’s going to give you an indication of who you really are as a person.

“I think we showed a lot of who we are as a ball club to be able to be in the position we were in today, and pull that thing out and win it in the ninth,” he continued. “I’m very proud of these guys tonight.”

Coming up next, the Brahmas continue the WSC Spring Break Tournament today against El Camino College and tomorrow against San Bernardino Valley College,