Homer-Happy Bucs Snap Four-Game Skid over Field Rats
The SBL Bucs (9-8)(8-5 league) matched against the Field Rats at Los Angeles Valley College Thursday, powering their way to a 7-5 victory. The Bucs bats used a couple of home runs to lead the way, while the pitching came through in tough situations to protect their lead.
Heading into their matchup, the Bucs were looking to reverse their fortunes as they had dropped their previous four contests, not having won since June 29 against the Quakes. The Bucs decided to shake things up for their game against the Field Rats, relying on guys playing their first games with the team.
Although playing at their home stadium, the Bucs were the road team in their contest, allowing them to lead off on the offensive side. A first inning home run from shortstop Tommy Italia gave the Bucs an early 1-0 lead. As for Italia, that home run was his first hit in his first ever at bat as a member of the Bucs.
“I took this last month off to just work on things and to come out here and do well on my first day feels really good to me,” Italia said…“I found a good pitch to hit and got it on the inside part of the plate, which is something that I’ve been working on.”
The Bucs sent right-hander Jameson Johnstone (W, 1-0) to start his first game with the club. Johnstone cruised through his first three innings of work, facing the minimum number of hitters within that span and throwing just 34 pitches.
The Bucs were able to provide some extra insurance for Johnstone in the top of the fifth inning, as a two-run blast from DH Rowan Teran helped widen the lead to 5-0. The Bucs had come into the game with three home runs as a team, and were able to connect on two in just five innings.
“All day today I [was] seeing the ball very decently and I put some good swings in my at bats. I was 0-2 going into that at bat, so I just wanted to put the ball in play and help my team get the win in any way I could,” Teran said.
That home run from Teran proved vital to maintaining the Bucs lead, as the Field Rats came back with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the fifth inning. Their rally was silenced, as Johnstone was able to notch a huge strikeout to end the inning and complete his day on the hill.
Johnstone in his first start with the Bucs finished as the victor, finishing with a statline of 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 5 K, while tossing 68 pitches and now carrying a season ERA of 1.80.
The Bucs bullpen was able to tame whatever offensive outburst the Field Rats had planned. The Bucs used player/coach Eric Carrero as a key part of their bullpen, and he answered the call, throwing 2.2 innings of two run ball and holding the Bucs lead to two. The Bucs then called on third baseman Thomas Keller (1) to come in and secure the save for his squad. Despite the Field Rats loading the bases, with the winning run at first base, Keller was able to trust his defense to record the third out and record his first save of the season.
The Bucs offense finished with a combined batting average of .256 and an impressive combined OPS of .823, while also tearing up the basepaths with nine stolen bases on the day.
The Bucs play host to the OC Pirates at Los Angeles Valley College on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m.