Rio Hondo defeats Cerro Coso, 9-2 in ‘The Jungle’

The Rio Hondo baseball team sits in first place in the Foothill Conference, tied with Chaffey College and San Bernardino Valley College, with a 4-1 record after five games.

Matt Young continued his impressive season with another quality start and first basemen Aaron Ashton got two key hits in the Roadrunners 9-2 win, at home, on March 4, against Cerro Coso Community College.

“He did a good job today. His last outing was not his best and he made a good adjustment today,” head Coach Mike Salazar said when asked about Matt Young’s contribution, “ [He] gave us a good seven and a third innings today, which was big because we have four games this week. So, that was big to go-ahead and rest our bullpen a little bit and give us a quality start”.

Young pitched 7.1 innings, allowed five hits, one earned run, walked three, while striking out 10 and earning the win.

Young looked overpowering in the first inning, striking-out the first two batters he faced, both whom went down looking, and getting the Coyotes right fielder Kevin Maxey to flyout to right field.

The Roadrunners scored the first run of the game when Ashton singled to center, driving-in second basemen, Nick Piraino, from third and giving Rio Hondo the lead.

Piraino began the inning by singling to right, promptly stealing second and advancing to third on a groundout from Jesus Caporal.

Young struck-out the Coyotes Chad Butler to start the second inning, but then walked designated hitter, Ian Schultheiss.

Cerro Coso’s left fielder, Harrison Greenough, followed with a double that scored Schultheiss and tied the game at one a piece.

In the top of the third, the Coyotes threatened with runners on first and second, and two outs, but Young got Chad Butler to strikeout swinging to end the inning.

Ashton would have another chance in the third to do some damage for the Roadrunners when he came up to the plate, with two outs and a runner on first, but the Coyotes pitcher, Eric Larson, got him to fly to right for the third out.

After striking out Ian Schultheiss to begin the fourth, Young allowed Greenough to get his second hit of the game, but got the next batter, Daniel Ritchie, to ground into an inning ending, 4-6-3 double play.

With Rio Hondo still looking to regain the lead, designated hitter Alex Garcia, reached based on a hard-hit grounder that ricocheted off the Coyotes first basemen and into right field.

Garcia advanced to second on a wild pitch, and Rio Hondo center fielder Brandon Muñoz reached first on an infield-single, giving the Roadrunners runners at first and second with only one out.

However, Rio Hondo would fail to capitalize as left fielder Jacob Grijalva popped up to the shortstop and catcher Hector Partida grounded out to second to end the threat.

Young struck out two Coyotes in the top of the fifth and Rio Hondo found the breakthrough they were looking for in the bottom of the inning when Ashton delivered a two-out hit, singling in Anthony Amaya from third and giving the Roadrunners a 2-1 lead.

Ashton advanced to second on a superb heads-up play, taking advantage of a lapse in concentration from the Coyotes defense as they had their backs turned to the infield and away from the Ashton.

Ashton’s hit seemed to keep the momentum flowing as Antonio Ruiz followed with a double, scoring Ashton from second, and Garcia singled past the second basemen to drive in Ruiz and put Rio Hondo ahead, 4-1.

When asked about Aaron Ashton, Coach Salazar said, “He did a good job. He had two hits today and he did what he should do. He’s a sophomore, he’s a returning player, so he did his job, which is to drive in runs.”

Young cruised through the six and seventh innings, facing the minimum number of batters, and was lifted in the eighth inning after he got center fielder Kesean Neighbors to fly out to center field.

Ceasar Arzate relieved Young and the Coyotes managed to score a run to cut Rio Hondo’s lead to 4-2. But the Roadrunners extended their lead in the bottom of the inning, against Coyotes reliever Nick Tamez, with hits from Amaya and Piraino.

Amaya hit a fly ball to left, that the Coyotes left fielder failed to spot, the ball landed for a hit about 10 feet inside of the left field line allowing two to score on the play.

Piraino followed with a double to deep left to drive in the runners from first and second and advanced to third on the throw to home.

Piraino scored on a wild pitch and gave the Roadrunners a 9-2 lead. Tyler Leibert pitched the ninth for Rio Hondo and got Cerro Coso to go down- one, two, three- securing the 9-2 win for the Roadrunners.

The Roadrunners opened up conference play at home in ,“The Jungle”, beating Victor Valley College, 7-5, and Barstow College, 9-0.

Rio Hondo were scheduled to play their third game of conference play on March 1 against Chaffey College, but the game was postponed due to rain and the make-up game was played on March 5.

Rio Hondo lost, 10-6. The Roadrunners defeated San Bernardino Valley, 9-4, on March 6, in San Bernardino, to improve their conference record to 4-1.

Rio Hondo will play a three-game series against Victor Valley College on March 18, 20, 22.