Baseball bounces back in home opener

Shane Finneran

“It was a curveball inside,” said Knights catcher Kevin Garcia. “I was sitting fastball, but I reacted to the curveball.”

Garcia broke open the Knights’ game against Saddleback on Feb. 4 when — with the bases loaded — he launched a hanging curve from Gauchos pitcher Ian Parvin into the gap in right-center. The long line drive fell in for a triple, knocking in three and giving City College an eight-run lead in the sixth inning.

The Knights held that lead, winning their home opener 10-2 over the Gauchos, who had beaten City College 15-1 a day earlier at Saddleback.

“We really came through after a big loss yesterday,” said Knights starting pitcher Keegan Yuhl. “We needed it.”

While Garcia got the big hit, City College shortstop Hector Lorenzana also had a terrific day at the plate. Lorenzana went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and scored three runs.

The Knights were anything but impressive coming out of the gate. Yuhl opened the game by beaning Saddleback leadoff man Ryan Forkel and walking the next batter. Both Gauchos then scored on a throwing error by Garcia.

After those initial jitters, however, Yuhl buckled down, limiting the Gauchos to just two hits and two unearned runs through six innings.

Yuhl noted that he tends to be “shaky” against the first few batters he faces. “That’s always been kind of my forte,” he said.

Yuhl said he thought his breaking ball and change-up served him well during the game. He also felt good about his fastball, though he tended to rely on his four-seamer because his two-seamer kept “going in.”

Freshman pitcher Mark Vasquez closed out the game for the Knights, scattering two hits and two walks across the last three innings. Vasquez coaxed Saddleback’s hitters into two double plays and even managed to pick a runner off second base.

Both teams seemed rusty on defense, combining for nine errors, mostly of the throwing variety.

Knights head coach Chris Brown was happy to bounce back from the previous day’s loss to the Gauchos with a strong win against them — and to post a victory against Saddleback’s long-time head coach, Jack Hodges, whom Brown served as an assistant coach for 8 years in the 1990s.

“It’s nice to not feel schooled,” Brown said. “It’s nice to school my mentor, which the boys did today.”

Brown sounded optimistic about the Knights’ chances in 2011, though he acknowledged that it’s early in the season and his young squad is “a little inexperienced.”

“I think we’ve got the makeup of a pretty good ballclub,” Brown said.