June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Tustin survives Irvine’s last inning rally to capture non-league victory

Andrew Olsen of Tustin slides safely into second base in the first inning of Wednesday’s game. Olsen came around to score. (Photos courtesy Jim Tomlin, For OC Sports Zone).

Tustin High School’s baseball team led from start, but had to work out of a bases loaded threat with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Irvine 5-4 Wednesday afternoon in a non-league game at Irvine.

Irvine (0-1-1 overall) cut the lead to one run in the seventh when Owen Featherstone, who reached on a walk, scored on an infield error. Tustin Coach Ben Owens called for Adam Valencia to be walked to load the bases.

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Tustin reliever Nyte Teeter then struck out Darren Shen, who came on to pitch in top of the inning, to end the game.

Tustin (4-3 overall) jumped ahead 3-0 with three runs (two earned) in the first inning off Irvine starter Nate Valencia, who settled down after that. But Irvine was never able to tie the game.

“Getting that three-run early I think our guys put it into cruise control a little and they battled back and we battled back and they battled back again, to bring Nyte on in the seventh and get that pitch in the seventh with two outs and the bases loaded, I’m very proud and happy and glad to be on the plus side of .500,” Owens said.

Nathan Walraven pitched the first four 3 2/3 innings for Tustin allowing three runs. Harrison Rogers, Nathan Saltzer and Teeter were effective out of the bullpen helping Tustin keep the lead.

Saltzer was able to work out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth and pitched well in the fifth and sixth innings.

“We found a way, pitchers kept us in there,” Owens said. “Hitters kind of supplied them with the necessary runs we needed to.”

Irvine was held to two hits while Tustin pitchers surrendered 10 walks. Tustin also had three errors.

The Vaqueros had numerous chances but stranded seven runners in the first four innings and 10 in the game.

“It was exciting, it was a good high school baseball game,” said Irvine Coach Gabriel Cota after his team’s second game of the season. “It’s our second, we’re just trying to learn how to play. Obviously, you always want to win, but I think it was great experience for us. We have two games then we’re rolling into league (next week). We don’t have a lot of time to do too much but it was good for us.

“We didn’t give up, we battled all the way until the end, we gave ourselves a shot at the end which is exciting, it’s always a new season, new team so they have to learn the bumps and bruises that go along with the season.”

In the first inning, Elijah Smith had an RBI double and Andrew Olsen an RBI single. Olsen scored when Jackson Key reached on an error in the outfield.

Irvine cashed in two errors and a walk to score a run in the third inning to cut the lead to 3-1. But Tustin scored a run in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Devin Miller, driving in Key, who doubled to make it 4-1.

Irvine responded with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Nate Valencia had an RBI double and Evan Tamayo an RBI single to cut the lead to 4-3 but left the bases loaded.

In the sixth inning, Tustin extended its lead to 5-3 when Miller delivered a sacrifice fly driving in Daniel Benally, who singled and stole second base.

Miller had two RBI for Tustin.

Nate Valencia, the Irvine starter, pitched four innings before being relieved by Ethan Kim in the fifth inning.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com