Aaron Tolentino | Sports editor | April 3, 2018
In a pitchers' duel that saw little offense in the first six innings, the last three were a roller coaster for both teams, with numerous momentum shifts from each side.
However, in the end, a Hartnell College team that drove over a hundred miles from Salinas came out on top with a score of 8-6 over Diablo Valley College Tuesday afternoon in Pleasant Hill.
Hartnell took game one of a three-game series with the DVC.
Vikings' starting pitcher Nate Jenkins exited the game with six innings pitched and three earned runs allowed, but it wasn't until the eighth inning when Hartnell hit DVC relievers hard to blow their lead up to 5-1.
The Vikings once again showed their fight in the eighth, along with a little help from Hartnell themselves who committed two errors in that inning alone, including a bases-loaded walk that plated a DVC run. This was a four-run inning that tied the game back up in the eighth.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth, Vikings outfielder Colton Parker took a questionable strike three on a full count that might have changed the outcome of the game. The Hartnell catcher seemed to catch a pitch way inside based on the awkward position he caught it in.
Nonetheless, DVC had to settle for the tie in the eighth, and in the ninth, that's when the game fell apart for the Vikings. Their bullpen gave up three big runs in the inning that put DVC down for good.
The problem for the Vikings was their bullpen wasn't much of a bullpen. Starting first baseman Jonathon Waite was inserted by head coach Steve Ward as a desperation move. Waite, a usual position player, gave up two runs in the inning that cost DVC the game.
"We have no relief pitching," Ward said. "That's the bottom line. We get through our starters, it's 50-50, at best, we're gonna win. It's just that simple."
For this Vikings team to win games, they need to rely heavily on their starting pitching to take them deep into games.
Jenkins handled himself well on the day, but his pitch count went over 100 after six innings. Ward thought he had to take out a laboring Jenkins who gave up two runs in his final inning.
Ward and his team knows they can score a lot of runs. It's simply a matter of holding the opponent to less runs.
DVC falls to an 11-18 overall record this year and looks to bounce back in their next game, a rematch against Hartnell, but this time in Salinas with first pitch scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Depending on the rainy forecast, game three Saturday in Pleasant Hill might switch to Salinas and Thursday's Salinas game may move to Pleasant Hill . The two teams will decide within the next day.
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