Warriors baseball mounts walk-off comeback to defeat East L.A. 5-4


Warriors right-handed pitcher Max Pappas (No. 15) winding a pitch during El Camino’s March 12 game versus East L.A. Pappas entered the game sporting a 4-0 record. Photo credit: Kealoha Noguchi

The El Camino Warriors baseball team trailed by two at the bottom of the ninth inning but rallied for three runs to walk-off and complete the season sweep of East Los Angeles College on Tuesday, March 12.

Warriors second baseman Spencer Long led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a single, which ended the day for East L.A.’s starting pitcher Steven Villagran.

The Huskies then called Alex Castellanos to the bullpen who allowed a hit to Warriors’ outfielder Ty Conrad, struck out catcher Sladen Mohl and issued a bases-loading walk to shortstop Taishi Nakawake before being relieved.

East L.A. made one last pitching change by bringing in Troy Maki.

Maki would proceed to hit the first batter he faced in right fielder Logan Young to force in a run, which cut the Warriors’ deficit to one run.

The next batter, first basemen Spencer Palmer, would battle back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk and tie the game.

With the infield in and one out, batter Joseph Borges hit a groundball to the East L.A. second baseman who promptly threw to home for the force out, but the catcher’s foot was not on the plate. Warriors’ Nakawake was safe at home to end the game and complete the comeback.

The Warriors never led the game until their walk-off run at the very end and trailed by three runs after four innings.

The dugout of the El Camino Warriors during their March 12 home game against the East L.A. Huskies. The Warriors never led the game until their walk-off run at the very end. Photo credit: Kealoha Noguchi

Warriors starting pitcher Max Pappas came into the game with a 4-0 record and 1.80 earned-run average (ERA) but allowed two unearned runs in the first inning and gave up another unearned run in the fourth inning.

Warriors head coach Nate Fernley said the pitching staff has been ‘outstanding’ all year. The Warriors pitchers came into the game with a collective team ERA of 1.92.

“They’ve been great, I don’t think you can ask for more than what they’ve given us all year,” Fernley said.

Pappas pitched just over seven innings and was pulled out during the eighth inning allowing ten hits, three unearned runs, two walks and six strikeouts.

“Even Max in the game gives up two [runs] in the first [inning] and then settles down and does a really good job getting us all the way down into the eighth [inning],” Fernley said.

Pappas said the pitching staff throws as many strikes as they can and trusts the defense behind them to make plays.

“We have a great staff, we pound the strike zone and we let our defense play,” Pappas said.

Huskies starting pitcher Steven Villagran’s final line included eight innings pitched, eight hits, three earned runs, one walk and nine strikeouts.

Max Pappas 1
Warriors right-handed pitcher Max Pappas (No. 15) releasing a pitch during El Camino's March 12 game versus East L.A. Pappas entered the game sporting a 4-0 record. Photo credit: Kealoha Noguchi

Right-hander pitcher and designated hitter Aaron Orozco led the way for El Camino’s bats with three hits in four at-bats as well as scoring in a run.

Orozco has been dominant on the mound (4-1 win-loss record and a 2.57 ERA) and great in the box (.271 batting average with seven runs batted in).

“Keep my composure even though I’m really competitive and things don’t go my way. It’s always good to keep a straight head and always try and stay competitive,” Orozco said.

Warriors catcher Sladen Mohl said it’s ‘special’ to sit behind the plate and catch for the pitching staff as a whole.

“We got three guys in our starters that can hit locations, throw three different pitches and constantly throw strikes,” Mohl said. “We have a bullpen that always comes in and back them up. So everyone that’s in our rotation just comes in and just competes and it’s really nice,”

With the win, the El Camino Warriors improved to 16-3 (4-2 in conference) and East L.A. dropped to 9-11-1 (2-3-1 in conference).

The Warriors’ next game is on the road at Pasadena. First pitch is at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 14.