Norwood delivers winning pitch

Freshman relief pitcher Josh Norwood remained calmly on the mound with 2 outs and a man on third, needing just one strike to protect a one-run lead over Santa Barbara City College and give the El Camino baseball team it’s fourth-consecutive victory.

Norwood shut the door for the Warriors (8-5) by getting the batter to ground out securing a 4-3 win over the Vaqueros (11-3), pushing their win streak to four games.

“I don’t go for the strikeout,” Norwood said. “I go for the ground ball or the pop-up because they can get anything in the outfield and double plays all day long. I have complete confidence in them.”

Norwood has settled into a closer role after sealing his second consecutive save and now boasts a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings pitched.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a pitcher as gritty as him. He thrives and gets better in those moments,” coach Nate Fernley said. “To have him at the end of games is really a luxury for us.”

After a sluggish start the Warriors are beginning to gel and find an identity as a team, defeating four quality opponents and pulling their record back over .500, including an incredible 15-11 come from behind victory over L.A. Pierce College after trailing by eight runs.

“Before the win streak we didn’t really know ourselves. We thought our chemistry needed to get better,” freshman catcher Joey Notch said. “After the Pierce game everything went uphill.”

The Vaqueros got on the board first in bottom of the third inning after a batter reached on a fielder’s choice, giving him an RBI and 1-0 lead for his team.

The Warriors would respond with a huge fifth inning, scoring 4 runs and knocking the Vaquero starting pitcher out of the game.

With two outs the Warriors were able to load the bases thanks to a pair of walks and a single to third base by freshman center fielder Keyon Allen. Freshman third baseman Tony Poncia would be hit by a pitch to tie the game at 1-1 which set the stage for sophomore first baseman Dylan Hatch coming up to the plate.

Hatch would hit his second double of the game, both into center field and one of them just shy of being a home run, to drive in three runs and give the Warriors a 4-1 lead.

“I was late on all those pitches in the first at bat,” Hatch said. “I knew he was going to try and blow me away with the fastball so I got in front of it and hit it good.”

The Vaqueros would close the gap by scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings, cutting into the lead 4-3.

The Warriors would stop the Vaqueros from tying the game twice as Notch made a pair of outstanding plays at the plate that would end both innings and killed whatever momentum the Vaqueros had on their side.

“Those end up being the turning point of the game,”Fernley said. “That’s just a great play all around.”

The real season now begins for the Warriors as conference play begins with a three-game series against Cypress College which will conclude this Saturday, March 8, at Warrior Field with first pitch scheduled for noon.

“We’re playing for each other. We’re not playing for ourselves or our own stats,” Poncia said. “Everyone is committing to the team.”