The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Back on track: Warriors Baseball takes series win over the East L.A. Huskies in a pitchers’ duel

Eric Perez, catcher for the El Camino College Men’s Baseball team, waits for his pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning between El Camino College and East Los Angeles College baseball game at the Warrior Field on Thursday, Feb. 22 (Tommy Kallman | The Union)

The bats were hot in the first matchup of the series between El Camino College and East Los Angeles College at the Warrior Field on Thursday, Feb. 22. However, runs were hard to come by.

The Huskies were able to apply the pressure in the first inning after they managed to get a runner on base through a walk by Warriors pitcher Jake Stolnack. That runner stole second base and was knocked in by cleanup hitter Beno Olmeda, giving the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.

Despite the early momentum, the lead wouldn’t stick. The Warriors rallied later on to take a 2-1 lead, and win the game.

On the defensive side, Huskies pitcher Nathan Mertens threw a gem, but it was trivial due to the lack of production that came from their bats.

Stolnack was able to settle into the game in the second inning, retiring the side quickly and ending with a strikeout on a nasty breaking ball.

“Being able to trust my defense and knowing that they’re going to get the outs [helped me settle in],” Stolnack said. “Left one [pitch] middle-in, but after that I just kind of settled down.”

Mertens wasn’t just going to roll over though, as he went out in the second inning and struck out the side. His fastball was giving the Warriors trouble the entire game.

Another 1-2-3 inning from Stolnack sparked a little momentum for the Warriors on offense in the third. A single from left fielder Ryan Matsukawa and a walk from shortstop Connor Meidroth put runners on first and second with two outs.

The Warriors couldn’t get them home though, with the third out being made off a nice play by Huskies shortstop Matias Nolasco.

Stolnack got into a jam in the fourth inning after throwing six straight balls, walking two batters. A clutch 5-4-3 double play got them out of that inning and back on offense.

Once again though, Mertens answered back and struck out the side for the second time, letting the Warriors know who had control of the game.

The fifth inning was all Warriors. Stolnack had another quick inning on the mound, while the offense finally got to Mertens in the bottom.

A costly error made by the Huskies allowed second baseman Mason Martinez to reach first easily. Following the error, a sacrifice bunt from center fielder Jack Nammack helped Martinez advance to second.

Another single from Matsukawa brought first baseman Joey Replogle to the plate, who delivered when his team needed it most with a double hit down the left-field line.

Replogle’s double earned him two RBIs and a nice celebration on second base, giving the Warriors a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

“We really just beared down on offense,” Matsukawa said. “We tried to not let [Mertens] get to us, and went out there to hammer the fastball.”

In the sixth inning, Stolnack was able to get the first two outs before he gave up a double and was replaced by lefty Aaron Ragat. Ragat got the last batter to fly out, keeping the Warriors in the lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Mertens earned his 10th strikeout of the game, willing his team back in the game and sparking some energy for the offense.

The seventh and eighth innings showcased more dominance from Mertens and Ragat, who combined for eight strikeouts over that span. Both pitchers were making hitters look silly at the plate.

“They were chasing a little bit on breaking balls,” Ragat said. “Expanding the zone when we needed to and being in the zone when we needed to was pretty good for us [to get hitters out].”

After a couple of walks in the ninth inning, Ragat was able to get a 6-4-3 double play, giving the Warriors a 2-1 win over the Huskies.

Stolnack earned the win and Ragat earned the save.

Mertens pitched the entire game, ending with 15 strikeouts in eight innings, but no win. Stolnack and Ragat combined for nine innings, no earned runs and six strikeouts.

“We’ve been battle-tested early in this season,” Warriors coach Grant Palmer said. “East L.A. is a tough team… I give a lot of credit to [Mertens]… he made it a tough game today and we’re glad to get a win.”

The Warriors will finish their series versus East L.A. this weekend, looking for their third straight win and a series sweep.

Next Game
El Camino vs. East Los Angeles
@ East Los Angeles College
Saturday, Feb. 24, noon

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