Cypress, Calif. May 2- After 25 innings in two games against the number twelfth ranked Fullerton College, the number fifth ranked Cypress Charger Baseball falls just short of advancement to Super Regionals, the second round of OEC playoffs.
On Friday, May 1, the Chargers hosted the first in a best-of-three series against the Fullerton College Hornets. The Hornets started the game strong, scoring two runs in the top of the first, one run in the top of the second, and two more runs in the top of the fourth.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Cypress responded to Fullerton’s five run lead with a run of their own. Charger Austin Case scored on Grant Mayeaux’s ground out to finally put Cypress on the board. Fullerton’s Justin Row came back in the top of the sixth with a RBI single to make the score 6-1.
The Chargers made a run at a comeback in the bottom of the sixth inning. John Santospago hit a three RBI double to give Cypress some hope and closed in on Fullerton, 6-4. After a scoreless seventh and eighth innings, Aaron Case hit a sacrifice ball in the bottom of the ninth to allow Nathan Kuchta to score.
Cypress was unable to score the tying run and fell 6-5 to Fullerton. Losing the first game against Fullerton put Cypress in a do or die situation. In order to win the series, Cypress would have to win back to back games on Saturday, May 2. “We were confident in ourselves and believed the whole time.” Said Cypress Charger Joe Vanmarter of the long day ahead.
Cypress Chargers opened their home field once again to the Fullerton Hornets on Saturday, May 2. The game remained scoreless for the first three innings. In the top of the fourth, Charger Jackson Willeford hit a RBI double to give Cypress a 1-0 lead. In the same inning, Tyler Gnesda and Brandon Brintz each hit RBI singles and gave Cypress a 3-0 lead. The Hornets responded in the bottom of the sixth inning with three runs, tying the game 3-3.
The game remained tied for another seven innings, taking the game into its fourteenth inning. Vanmarter said of the suspenseful extra innings, “We hadn’t been in a situation like that before, so the only thing we knew how to do was come together as a team and keep battling.” In the top of the fourteenth inning, Charger John Santospago hit a two-run double that allowed Jackson Willeford and Jack Flansburg to score. With the score 5-3 in favor of Cypress, it seemed like the Chargers were going to force a game three. But, Fullerton refused to back down. In the bottom of the fourteenth, the Hornets hit a two-run shot that would extend the game for two more innings. “Battling for sixteen innings says a lot about the team we were this year; super scrappy.” Said John Santospago.
Cypress remained scoreless in the top of the sixteenth, and Fullerton went on to end the game 6-5 on a sacrifice fly to center field that allowed them to score. Vanmarter said Of the game, “Despite being beat and having our season cut short, we all knew that we gave it the best effort we could and left it all on the field.”
After a Cypress post season record of sixteen innings and a total of four and a half hours, the Chargers season was cut short. Nathan Kuchta said of his teammates, “We worked together well and battled as a team for 16 innings straight. Each and every single guy on our team contributed in some way and executed in key situations. It was a hard fought game and a very tough one to lose but it was awesome how every guy pulled together in the dugout.”
Santospago said of next season, “We need to build off this intensity going into next year. Especially with all the new guys coming in.” The fierce match up between these two OEC rivals is sure to set the tone for next season.