Skyline outlasts Hartnell behind pitcher Bryan Hidalgo


Photos by Renee Abu-Zaghibra/ The Skyline View

Starting pitcher Bryan Hidalgo went eight innings, striking out batter after batter.

The Trojans took care of business at home, Tuesday Mar. 26, by beating divisional rival Hartnell College Panthers 4-3.

Right from the get-go, it seemed like starting pitcher Bryan Hidalgo had his stuff. After getting the first two men out to start the game, he walked the next batter and gave up a hit, but would then go on to pick off the Panther player on 2nd base to end the top of first frame.

Hidalgo kept the Panther offense in check through the first three innings, striking out four and only allowing singles. But he would run into some trouble in fourth.

Getting the first two outs, he then gave up a single and a double back-to-back. He walked the next batter to load the bases. Panther Andrew Beard singled, bringing home two runs to take an early 2-0 lead. Hidalgo then struck out Panther outfielder Mark Velasquez to end a rocky top of the fourth.

But the Trojans would answer back in their turn in the fourth. Second baseman Anthony Santiago singled off Panther’s starting pitcher Cody Gessell. Due to one of the Panther’s four errors in the game, Santiago scored on the error from second base.

After giving up another run in the fifth, Hidalgo would settle down and leave the Panthers at three runs. In six innings of work, Hidalgo struck out eight batters.

The Trojans scored a run in the fifth and would even up the score in the sixth in a peculiar play. With two outs, Trojan designated hitter Lucciano Molina made it to first on a swinging bunt. He was replaced by pinch runner Merrick Belding. He attempted to steal second, only for the Panther catcher to overthrow.

Belding goes to third,and when the Panther center fielder tried to keep him at third, he threw it right to the back of the second baseman’s head, allowing Belding to score and tie the game.

When asked on the status of his second baseman, Panther head coach Rich Givens said after the game: “He’s okay. It’s a bump on the head. He’ll be back at practice tomorrow.”

But the drama would escalate in the eighth.

After a one-two-three seventh inning for both sides, the Panther’s half of the inning to bat went down on a questionable call. Panther third baseman Anthony Teresa was called out trying to steal second after the pitchout was wide right. This led to a heated argument between the home umpire and Panther head coach Rich Givens.

In their turn at-bat, Skyline would capitalize on the pitching changes. After pitcher Matt Naval was brought in to relieve Gessell, left fielder Robin Lausen hit a leadoff single through the gap between first and second. Santiago would try to move him over to second on a bunt only to popup. No matter, as Lausen managed to steal second.

After Carrillo grounded out, Lausen made it to third base. Par Axelsson is brought in to pinch hit, and he delivers. Another pitching change allowed Axelsson something fresh to get a base hit up the middle, which brought Lausen home to takethe lead late.

In a rare save situation, Daniel Morales was brought in and subsequently shut the door on the Panthers and preserved the Trojans’ seventh win for the season.

After the game, when asked the team’s performance, head coach Dino Nomicos said: “We played well, got after it. Good pitching performance; Bryan Hidalgo set the table.”

When asked to elaborate on his starting pitcher, he adds: “He was outstanding, best performance of the year. He’s getting better and better.”

Pitching coach Tony Brunicardi agreed withNomicos, “The best he’s looked all year.”

When asked why he went with Axelsson to pinch hit in the eight, Nomicos said: “Because he’s been doing really well in practice.”

“I went up with the approach to win,” said Axelsson, “Hit a line drive. That was the job, that was the task.”