In one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the season, the No. 18 Long Beach City College baseball squad hit the road to face off against the top-ranked El Camino College Warriors in South Coast Conference (SCC) –South action. The Vikings struck first and never looked back from the opening frame on en route to a 8-4 upset over the Warriors.
The Vikings bats came alive immediately in the top of the first inning with freshman center fielder Val Stammler (Long Beach, CA) kicking off the inning with a walk. Sophomore shortstop Antonio Monroy (Maywood, CA) promptly laced a double to left-center field to plate Stammler. Monroy came around to score two batters latter on a throwing error to snag an early 2-0 advantage.
Freshman starter Jacob Gregg (Long Beach, CA) graced the rubber for his ninth start of the season and got off to a strong start by retiring the side in order in the first inning and holding the Warriors scoreless in the second inning as well.
Long Beach continued to add on in the top of the third inning as freshman second baseman Tyler Wilber (Los Alamitos, CA) worked a bases-loaded walk to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Warriors trimmed their deficit to two runs in the bottom half of the third inning, but the Vikings responded with ease in the top of the fourth inning. Freshman left fielder Zach Martinez (Long Beach, CA) took advantage of a passed ball and scurried home, backed by freshman catcher Robert Barham (Long Beach, CA) scoring on the second throwing error of the game from El Camino to extend their lead to 6-1.
Gregg continued to chuck the pearl well by allowing just one run the following three innings of action. He utilized his defense very well by forcing one double play ball.
LBCC was not satisfied with a 6-3 lead as the continued to cart hot barrels in the top of the seventh inning as they laced two-consecutive, two-out RBI base knocks at the hand of Barham and freshman right fielder Collin Perez (Long Beach, CA), respectfully, to grab an 8-3 lead.
However, Gregg found himself in trouble in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Warriors loaded the bases with nobody out. Freshman reliever Lorenzo Haycox (Long Beach, CA) took over the pitching duties in a tough spot and impressed. He forced the first batter he faced into a 1-2-3 double play off an impressive play on a tough comebacker. He continued on to axe the El Camino threat by punching out the following batter, thus wiggle out of the jam to preserve the lead.
Haycox allowed just one run to cross the plate in the following inning, but he forced an inning-ending double play to preserve the lead at 8-4. Freshman reliever Chase Ambrose (Long Beach, CA) took over in the ninth inning and slammed the door en route to the 8-4 win.
Haycox was phenomenal in relief by wiggling out of a crucial eighth inning, bases-loaded jam. He fanned one batter in two innings. Gregg (3-3) earned the victory on the bump in six innings pitched while striking out a pair of batters.
Offensively, Monroy continued to remain vicious at the plate by going 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored, and an RBI. Martinez went 3-for-5, while Perez went 2-for-3 with an RBI single.
The Vikings still remain in the hunt for the SCC-South title. They have second placed locked, but their sights are set on the top spot. They currently sit two games behind El Camino in the standings.
They look to get one game closer to first place as they will host the No. 1 Warriors at home for their final home contest of the regular season. First pitch is set for 2:30 p.m.