After splitting the opening two contests with the Golden West College Rustlers, the Riverside City College baseball teamed entered into the game three looking to win their first Orange Empire Conference (OEC) series of the season. With a steady does of offense and strong pitching performances, the Tigers were able to accomplish the feat and earn a 7-1 victory.
The Tigers were in control from the get go as sophomore starter Alexander Salazar set the tone early. In his fifth start of the season, he blanked the Rustlers through five innings while allowing just four hits on the day. He faced no serious threat as he stranded runners on second base in the first and the fifth innings.
Offensively, the Tigers struck in the top of the second inning due to a fielding miscue from the Rustlers as freshman catcher Angel Medoza touched home on a throwing error. Sophomore left fielder Joseph Hodapp followed with a sacrifice fly out to center field, scoring freshman designated hitter Dylan Morace, leading to a 2-0 advantage.
Riverside continued to chip away as they etched another two spot on the board in the top of the sixth inning. Freshman right fielder Ulises Caballero lead off the inning with a base knock and then came around to score on a two-bagger off the bat of sophomore first baseman Andrew Talkington. Talkington later came around to score on a single from sophomore shortstop Matthew Happ, giving the Tigers a 4-0 cushion.
Happ continued to do damage at the dish by knocking in another run in the top of the eighth, scoring Mendoza who reached base on a one-out double. The Tigers added two more insurance runs in the final frame compliments of an RBI double from Caballero and a sacrifice fly out from freshman pinch hitter Steve Ramirez, thus handing Riverside a 7-1 victory.
Castaneda entered into the contest in the sixth inning and slammed the door despite allowing one run. He fanned four batters and allowed a mere three hits. Salazar picked up the win after throwing five innings and retiring seven Rustlers.
Happ drove in a game-high two RBI on a 2-for-4 day at the dish, while Caballero recorded a game-high three hits with two acting as doubles. He drove in a pair of runs and scored a run as well.
Riverside (15-5, 2-1 OEC) currently sits second in the conference standings and will enter into a three-game series against the Fullerton College Hornets on the road Tuesday, March 12 at 2 p.m.