Baseball advances to first Super Regionals since 2006

Baseball advances to first Super Regionals since 2006

Harsa Aditya pitches in the 3nd inning for Pierce College, he would get the win in a 3 -1 victory for Pierce over Cerritos College on May 3rd in Cerritos, Calif. James H Channell the Roundup News
Harsa Aditya pitches in the 3nd inning for Pierce College, he would get the win in a 3 -1 victory for Pierce over Cerritos College on May 3rd in Cerritos, Calif. James H Channell the Roundup News

The theme of the year for Pierce’s baseball team was to bounce back harder and stronger after a loss.

Facing elimination, intense heat and needing two wins in one day in order to stay in the playoffs, the Brahmas looked back to that theme and prevailed in stunning fashion, beating Cerritos College in back-to-back games to advance to the Super Regionals for the first time since 2006.

“I’ve been here 18 years and this has to be one of the more special days I’ve had,” Pierce head coach John Bushart said. “Those were two very great baseball games. We just got to continue to grow, continue to fight and keep getting better.”

The Brahmas won the first game of the double header 3-1 behind freshman pitcher Harsa Prahara, who pitched seven and one third innings and gave up only one run on three hits despite recording no strikeouts while allowing five walks.

The win tied the series against Cerritos at one apiece heading into game two.

Pierce’s offense had been stagnant, scoring only one run in game one, got a clutch RBI base hit from outfielder Dylan Tashjian, who in the third inning on a 1-2 count and runners in scoring position hit a single into left field that scored two runs.  That was all the cushion the Brahmas needed in game two.

After Prahara came out in the seventh inning, freshman left hander Daniel Barazza pitched the rest of the game, going two and two thirds innings without allowing a hit to pick up the save and help preserve the Brahmas first win of the series.

“He showed me a lot of maturity and he answered the bell in the first game,” John Bushart said about Prahara.

Both teams received a 20-minute break between games before having to come out and play the game three and the second of the day with temperatures reaching into the 90’s and topping out at 95 degrees. Despite being a little worn down, Pierce looked like the team that was more hungry.

Behind another solid pitching performance, Daniel Barazza, who closed out game two, started game three, pitched five and one third innings, and gave up only two runs on six hits along with four strikeouts and no walks. The Brahmas outlasted the Falcons in the second game of the day, winning 3-2 and punching their ticket to the Super Regionals.

Barazza started the game in smooth fashion, pitching the first three innings without giving up a run or hit. Pierce later scored the first run in the top of the fourth when Casey Ryan reached first base on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded and one out.

The Falcons should have turned a double play, but due to a bad feed from shortstop Daniel Lopez to second baseman Victor Guadalupe who was off the bag, the Brahmas were able to score the first run.

“I felt confident today,” Barazza said. “My defense came up big.”

Barazza also got help in the outfield in the fifth inning from Brahmas outfielder Jeff Wright. Falcons first baseman Jose Romero was robbed of a base hit after he hit a hard shot into left field. The ball didn’t appear to be catchable, but Jeff Wright on the dead run jumped, crashed into the wall and made the catch to retire Romero and taking an extra-base hit away from him in the process. The play also stopped the Falcons from scoring and gave the Brahmas more momentum after the catch.

“Romero was a dead-pull hitter,” Wright said. “I just kept reading the ball, took three steps back, took three more steps back, took a good route to the ball, leapt and came down with it.”

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Falcons rallied back to score two runs. It started with Falcons DH and South Coast conference player of the year Jared Robinson, who hit a solo home run into left field to make the score 2-1. The next batter, Guadalupe, hit a double off of Barazza. After the hit, Pierce handed the ball over to side arm right hander Brandon Ortega. Guadalupe later scored to make the score 2-2.

In the seventh inning the Brahmas scored the go-ahead run after Quinn Conley reached an error on a ball he hit under the glove of Guadalupe that scored Moran.

Ortega finished the game and picked up the win despite controversy on a disputed call by both teams.

After Pierce hit into a fielder’s choice with a man at first in the top of the eighth, home plate umpire Chris Hickman ruled Pierce had committed runners interference and that both the runner and the batter were out, which ended the inning for Pierce.

Despite a ten minute delay, Ortega kept his poise, finishing the game pitching three and two third innings, allowing just one walk on four hits to give the Brahmas their second win in one day.

Ortega, even with his performance, said that Barraza, who he played with in high school at John Burroughs, was the man that deserved credit for the win.

“Not only did he pitch his best game, but he pitched the game to close out the first game,” Ortega said. “Just to be able to pick him up here, the way that we did in high school, is just great.”

Pierce’s comeback will be one to remember: after losing game one the Brahmas fought back to win the last two games and kept their playoff hopes alive.

“This team from game one has responded,” Moran said. “We’ve lost plenty of games this year but we found our way to the playoffs and we figured out a way. We always know that someone will always come through. Everybody wants it, from our starting nine to every single guy on the bench. Everyone comes in, has a role and gets the job done.”

Now the road gets even tougher for the Brahmas. For the Super Regional, Pierce drew longtime conference foe Oxnard, who they have lost to all four times this year including getting no-hit at home.

Despite the losses, Pierce head coach John Bushart remains optimistic that his team will be ready next week against the Western State Conference north division champions.

“We played them before, we know what to expect and we know what we have to do,” Bushart said.