By Ryan Craighead
Catcher-turned-starting pitcher Nick Wood pitched 7 innings of shutout baseball to lead LBCC to a 7-0 victory over Cerritos on Thursday, March 21.
Wood earned the win, allowing two hits and four walks, hit a batter while striking out five.. The first inning was the most challenging of the game for Wood, due to Cerritos loading the bases with one out. Wood induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Cerritos’ designated hitter Myles Mendez.
“I have to give credit to my catcher (Jaime Valle). He called a great game,” Wood said. “My fastball had a little bit of velocity and my curveball and change were working, too.”
Wood did not seem comfortable until the end of the second inning. When he struck out Cerritos second baseman Tyler Acevedo looking for the third out, he burst out with emotion. His fastball showed good life and velocity until the seventh inning, where he was visibly fatigued but managed to finish the inning with the help of a 9-6-3 put-out to stifle a seventh inning spark from Cerritos.
Wood wears a brace on his left ankle to support an injury he sustained in the pre-season. He said the injury does not affect him at all and he trusts his plant foot to support him on every pitch.
Coach Casey Crook said of Wood, “He’s becoming more aggressive. This is (Wood’s) first year as a pitcher and he is getting better each time he goes out there.”
The Vikings used small ball to score seven runs despite one extra-base hit. Crook was happy with the team’s effort, execution and focus and said it helped them succeed against Cerritos more than any other game.
The LBCC offense couldn’t cash in on early opportunities. In the second inning, The Vikes had the bases loaded with no outs only to have the rally killed. First baseman Nolan Flashman grounded into a double play, and left fielder Caulin Anderson lined out to short to end the threat.
The Viking’s small ball was effective. In the bottom of the fifth, LBCC second baseman Avery Flores beat out a deflection off the pitcher, stole second base, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Phil Visico.
In the bottom of the sixth, Anderson was plunked by Cerritos’ relief pitcher Jacob Northcutt. Northcutt had Anderson picked off at first, but Anderson was running on Northcutt’s first move and stole second base. Two pitches later Anderson stole third and scored on throw by catcher Taylor Cavazos that sailed over third into left field.
Cerritos freshman outfielder Johnny Martinez and LBCC sophomore shortstop Derrick Garcia proved that baseball is a contact sport in the top of the sixth.
Martinez dislodged both the ball and glove from Garcia’s hand while sliding spikes high into second base. The midair collision during a stolen base attempt left visible wounds on the inside of Garcia’s left wrist. Martinez was awarded a stolen base after Garcia was cleared to resume play by LBCC’s training staff.
The Vikes (12-10) play a two-game series against Antelope Valley (11-7-1) March 26 and 28 before facing L.A. Harbor (8-13-1) for three games on April 2, 4 and 6.