El Camino College Union

Walk-off home run advances Warriors baseball team to next round of playoffs

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In the top of the third inning with a runner on second and one out, a ground ball was hit to Warriors shortstop Taishi Nakawake. He fielded the ball but an errant throw let the runner on second score.

But in the bottom of the third with two outs and a runner on second, Warriors center fielder Joseph Borges hit a ground ball of his own into left field and scored a run, tying the game at 1.

Warriors second baseman Spencer Long then hit a line drive down the left field line. Borges would score from first base, and the Warriors took a 2-1 lead.

Game 3 on Saturday, May 11, between the El Camino Warriors and the Cypress Chargers was back and forth but ultimately resulted in a dramatic 8-7 win for the Warriors.

Two runs scored for the Chargers in the fifth inning, punctuated when Warriors pitcher Max Pappas threw a wild pitch. The score was 3-2 Cypress.

The Warriors bounced back later in the same inning when a Borges hit advanced a runner to third and allowed another to score, tying the game.

With runners on first and third, Long hit a ground ball to the Chargers shortstop who couldn’t handle it. The runner at third scored and the Warriors took the lead 4-3.

Warriors left fielder Ty Conrad hit a line drive to center field and Borges scored, increasing El Camino’s lead to 5-3.

Warriors first basemen Spencer Palmer hit a soft line drive to right field in the sixth inning, widening the gap between El Camino and Cypress even further.

In the seventh inning, Long relieved Pappas of pitching duty. The seventh and eighth innings went well for Long, but Cypress would strike in the ninth.

The Chargers started the inning with back-to-back triples from third basemen Rafael Flores and left fielder Augie Mattei. Mattei’s triple drove Flores home and chiseled down El Camino’s lead to 6-4.

Infielder Mariano Ricciardi stepped up to the plate and sent a runner home, cutting the score to 6-5.

First baseman Isaiah Stewart continued the triple parade from earlier in the inning and brought Ricciardi home, tying the game at 6.

Long would balk the next batter, causing Stewart to score and the Chargers to take the lead 7-6.

The bottom of the ninth was the Warriors’ final chance to make any noise. If the Warriors failed to put any runs on the board, they would lose the game and ultimately lose the series they once had a 1-0 lead in.

The Warriors started the inning with a Palmer pop fly to left field that resulted in an out. Borges stepped to the plate and hit a single.

Up next was Long, the pitcher on the mound responsible for the Chargers’ late-game lead. Long drilled the ball deep into left field. The Chargers’ left fielder ran back as far as possible, but the ball prevailed and sailed out of the field. The Warriors hit a walk-off home run.

With only one player needing to run home, the Warriors won Game 3 8-7 and the series 2-1.

Warriors coach Nate Fernley wasn’t expecting the game to end in the fashion it did.

“We kept answering them on offense,” Fernley said. “Spencer [Long] was great for us on the mound all year. This was unlike him, but it is so rewarding to win.”

Long was waiting for the Chargers pitcher to throw a fastball. He wasn’t expecting to hit a walk-off home run.

“I was just trying to keep [the game] alive,” Long said. “I didn’t think that would happen, I was just trying to get a walk.”

Fernley wasn’t sure what to make of the Chargers’ sudden surge in the ninth inning.

“He was over the plate and I guess they punished it. I got to go see the location of the pitches but credit to [Long] to get the final outs and keep it a one-run game,” Fernley said.

Long called the Chargers a good team and gave them credit for mounting a comeback.

“They are the only team I gave up a run to,” Long said. “I guess they have my number. I was living low and they were hitting the ball.”

Fernley was happy with Pappas’ and the rest of the team’s performance on the mound.

“The story of our team has been pitching,” Fernley said. “When we get [Pappas] on the mound, he is good for us. When you get it to Long with a lead, it’s usually money in the bank.”

Pappas knows his team has his back and that they will keep the game within reach.

“I just wanted to get ahead and give the defense a chance,” Pappas said.

Fernley knows the gameplan for next week’s opponent.

“The good thing is we have a whole week ahead of us to get prepared and be ready to go,” Fernley said.

The Warriors will play Game 1 of the next round of the 2019 California Community College Athletic Association baseball playoffs against the Glendale Vaqueros at Warrior Field on Friday, May 17, at 2 p.m.

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Walk-off home run advances Warriors baseball team to next round of playoffs