Reliever Ryan Hernandez has been on a roll and the No. 3-seeded Riverside City College baseball team once again rode his lefty arm in defeating host No. 2 Glendale, 6-4, Friday in the opening game of the CCCAA Southern California Regionals Round 3 best-of-3 series. The Tigers are now just one victory away from punching a ticket to the CCCAA State Tournament.
Hernandez had his longest stint of the season as he pitched 5.1 innings of 3-hit shutout ball with six strikeouts to improve his record to 4-0. In the postseason, Hernandez has been sensational with 12.1 shutout innings, two wins, just six hits allowed, three walks, and 14 Ks.
Hernandez relieved starter David Butler in the fourth after Glendale's Brandon Nguyen (4-for-5) slugged a 2-run homer that gave Glendale a 4-3 lead.
While Hernandez shut down the Vaqueros bats, RCC chipped away with single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
Designated hitter Bret Bowers laced a RBI double that tied it in the sixth. With two outs and nobody on the seventh, third baseman Ignacio Alvarez drew a walk, rightfielder Matthew Bardowell singled, and Bowers walked to load the bases. Riverside then scored what proved to be the winning run on a passed ball that scored Alvarez for a 5-4 lead.
In the eighth, catcher Daniel Briones added an insurance run with a RBI double. In the ninth, Hernandez surrendered two singles and struck out two, but closed out the triumph by getting Hans Seo to ground out to third base.
Riverside upped its overall record to 34-12 while Glendale (38-8) lost for just eighth time all season.
The Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on a solo home run by first baseman Daniel Garcia (2-for-4).
Winners of eight of the last nine games, Riverside looks to eliminate Glendale when they play game #2 on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Tigers will play as the home team and bat last.
If Glendale wins, RCC would face a winner-take-all third game on Sunday (1 p.m.). The Tigers are looking for their first trip to the state tournament since 2008.