The recent offensive flurry shown by the Brahmas came to a stop Thursday against the Ventura College Pirates in a 7-3 loss.
Pierce had put up 26 runs in the previous two games, and early on it appeared the run production could continue.
Short stop Will Picketts gave Pierce an early lead with a two run single in the second inning. However, four Ventura pitchers combined to hold the Brahmas to just six hits for the game and only allowing one unearned run in the remaining seven innings.
“They were throwing a lot of strikes and opening up the strike zone a little bit and we weren’t capitalizing on it,” Picketts said. “The strike zone was pretty big, but we should have made the adjustment. Our pitcher was dealing, we just didn’t get the runs he needed.”
The bright spot for the team was starting pitcher Tom Wilson who struck out nine in six innings, allowing one earned run on six hits in the process.
A three run fifth inning is where things unraveled for Wilson and the Brahmas.
“I was feeling good through the first four, that fifth inning is obviously a tough one,” Wilson said. “A couple things go our way here and there and I think I’m out there in the sixth with five zeros up there.”
A one out double gave Ventura a runner in scoring position for the first time in the game. After Wilson hit the next batter the pressure mounted.
Wilson responded, striking out the next batter, but Chris McKee came through for Ventura with a sharp single up the middle.
Pierce center fielder Tyler Dietrich, possibly thinking about coming up throwing to the plate, misplayed the ball allowing it past him and both runners to score.
Rodolfo Aguilar would follow up with a bloop single to left scoring McKee and giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
Wilson would again respond, getting out of the inning without any more damage, but was back in a pressure situation in the sixth. Ventura had runners on second and third with one out.
“I’m big on the pressure situation,” Wilson said. “That get’s me pumped.”
Wilson answered the call of the situation and escaped the inning unscathed.
When it came time for the seventh inning Wilson’s pitch count was over 100 and he was relieved by John-Mark Niednagel.
“I’m a big fan of not pushing the kids at this level,” Head Coach Bill Picketts said. “They’ve got a career ahead of them past this. This is kind of a little bridge to get them to that level.”
Niednagel struggled, allowing four runs in only ⅔ of an inning of work. He was replaced by Ethan Sanchez who would finish the game on the mound for the Brahmas.
According to coach Picketts, Sanchez didn’t pitch in high school, and “it was nice seeing him out there for three straight innings and not really give up a run.”
The 7-2 cushion Ventura had after the top of the seventh was more than enough. Pierce would plate one in the bottom of the inning but the Brahmas’ bats were quiet from there on.
With three games in a row this week, Pierce’s bullpen was thinned down. Coach Picketts looks forward to conference play starting and there only being games on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays so he can use what he believes to be the best pitching staff he’s had at Pierce “more efficiently.”
The loss brings the Brahmas’ record to 3-8. The next game is against Allan Hancock College, with the day to be determined.
The game will be played either Sunday, Feb. 19, or Monday, Feb. 20, depending on field conditions following the current storm.
According to coach Picketts, the decision will be made Saturday afternoon.