Sophomore catcher Steve Ramirez dug into the box with the bases juiced in the bottom of the 10th inning with one out while down two strikes in the count. On the fourth pitch of the at bat, Ramirez squared up a hanging curveball and launched a deep fly ball into the left-center gap, nearly disappearing in the night sky. The game-winning hit handed Riverside a 7-6 victory in extra innings over LA Pierce on opening night.
The sophomore backstop proved why Purdue University signed him prior to the beginning of his final campaign as a Tiger – consistency and the possession of the clutch gene. Ramirez picked up right where he left off last year by igniting fireworks to begin the year. He went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI and a run scored.
The Tigers failed to secure an early four-run advantage after etching all four of those runs in the bottom of the first inning. Freshman right fielder Matthew Darr was responsible for the first RBI of the season after barreling a double down the left field line scoring freshman shortstop Gunner Antillon. Sophomore designated hitter Angel Mendoza followed two batters later with a single through the left side, backed by a sacrifice ground out from Dylan Morace to plate Darr. Freshman first baseman Gabe Briones capped the inning with a knock to center field, scoring Mendoza, leading to a 4-0 advantage after one full inning.
Sophomore hurler Marques Johnson was awarded the start and tossed the opening three frames effectively. He allowed a pair of runs, but fanned six batters. Freshman Dustin Comeau relieved him in the fourth and tossed a flawless inning leading to one strikeout.
After Briones added another insurance run with a two-out RBI knock up the middle in the bottom of the fourth, but LA Pierce began mounting a comeback and tied the game at five all after six full. They threatened to take the lead in the top of the seventh, but sophomore reliever Ethan Sachs had other plans.
With LA Pierce working two runners in scoring position with nobody out, Sachs buckled down and punched out the following three batters to escape the jam. He went on to throw a flawless eighth inning, but allowed the game-tying run to cross the plate in the ensuing frame.
Nevertheless, Ramirez's late-game heroics nullified LA Pierce's efforts leading to a 7-6 win.
Antillon went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Ramirez and Briones recorded a pair of knocks and RBI. Sophomore southpaw Matthew Henry snagged his first win of the season after one inning of untouched work. He recorded two punch outs in the process.
Riverside (1-0) will continue action at home on Thursday, January 30 at 5 p.m. against the Cuesta College Cougars. BE sure to follow live stats on www.rccathletics.com.