Late game catch-up doesn’t save Brahmas

Micah Davis

Trailing by as many as 12 runs early in the March 20 game, the Pierce College baseball team battled back the San Bernardino Valley College Wolverines, but lost 16-12.The game marks the end of the Western State Conference spring break tournament, which resulted in three losses – of three games played – for the Brahmas.Their record in league play is now 5-7. However, head coach Joe Arnold remains optimistic about his team’s performance.”I thought the effort was good. In a game like that it would be very easy to quit and throw in the towel,” Arnold said. “That’s all you could ask from your team, to come out and give a good effort and keep playing until it’s all over.” Brahmas’ freshman starting pitcher John Degerman allowed 10 runs early in the game. The S.B. offense exploded for four runs in the first inning and six more in the second.”We hit the ball well,” said Rene Leal, Wolverines’ coach. “We’ve been on fire for the last four or five games hitting the ball.”Pierce managed just one run in the first four innings of play. Sophomore center fielder Calvin Culver drove a ball deep over the center field wall in the bottom of the first.”I approached the at-bat trying to help my team win, doing what I had to do to get on base and score and help my team win,” Culver said.By the top of the fifth inning, S.B. led 13-1, due in large part to catcher Adrian Carmona, who had four hits in five at-bats and collected three RBIs.”We played good, we gave up a little bit at the end,” Carmona said. “It should have been 16-1, but we’re happy – a win’s a win.”Pierce pitchers J.P. O’Leary, Mike Nesbit, Cameron Collard and Carter Whitman relieved starter John Degerman and combined for more than seven innings of work while giving up six runs. They managed to keep the Wolverines’ lead from growing, while allowing Pierce to continue to peck away at a seemingly insurmountable margin.”I felt like we gave our team a chance to win,” O’Leary said. “We threw strikes, put the ball in play and allowed our defense to work.”Several of S.B.’s runs resulted from errant throws, wild pitches and tricky bounces, which Arnold contributes to a combination of pressure and inexperience.”When you fall behind 10 runs, there’s just more pressure on you,” Arnold explained. “We have to continue to improve on the little things. Some of the things we do on the bases show our inexperience, but we’re a young team and I’m waiting for that little light bulb to go off.”Pierce scored a combined five runs in the seventh and eighth innings, three coming off the bat of outfielder Will Myrick, who took S.B. pitcher Trent Veleker deep over the left field wall. S.B. led 16-8 at the start of the ninth.Collard pitched the ninth inning for the Brahmas, allowing zero runs and striking out two. The bottom of the ninth opened with a quick out to center field, but the rally continued.Infielder/outfielder Cole McCune reached second base on a wild throw and was driven home after outfielder Ray Willis hit a pinch-hit RBI double. A walk and another RBI double, this time off the bat of Zach Gilula, led to a pitching change for the Wolverines. The new pitcher, Sam Konnoff, recorded one out before giving up a two-RBI single to Culver, who was eventually forced out at second base after Will Myrick hit a ground ball to the S.B. shortstop.The Brahmas’ late-inning surge was quelled before they could close the gap, but the resilience displayed has some hopeful. “I’m happy with our effort,” O’Leary said. “‘We’re fighting in all our games and hopefully we’ll come back strong.”