Rams Split Opening Series Against Skyline

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Photo by: Patrick Henslee

Freshman third baseman Evan Rocha tags the runner out to end the top of the sixth inning in the Rams’ 2-1 on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.

Story By: Patrick Henslee, Sports Editor

The Fresno City College baseball team beat Skyline College 2-1 on Saturday, Jan. 25 to split the season opening series. The game was a shoving match for both teams to see who would get on top early and who would be on top after the last pitch.

Skyline’s sophomore starter Dylan McDonald shutdown Fresno’s lineup the night before, throwing seven shutout innings en route to a 5-2 loss for the Rams.

Getting on the board and staying on top was imperative for FCC, and they’d need the effort to come from the mound and the plate. Lucky for the Rams, they had the talent to do just that. 

Freshman pitcher Marcelo Saldana started on the mound for FCC in the second game of the series. Saldana, a transfer from Division II CSU Stanislaus, came back to his hometown of Fresno and reminded everyone what made him a Division II talent.

Saldana was a bulldog on the mound, throwing six shutout innings against Skyline. He only punched out three batters, but allowed just two hits to keep the Trojans at bay until the Rams could get on the board.

When Saldana found himself with a runner on third and one out in the second inning, he forced a flyball to right field. Freshman outfielder J.D. Ortiz, a transfer from Division I UC Santa Barbara, unleashed a strong throw to get the runner at the plate. 

Sophomore catcher James Bell, a transfer from Division I University of Oregon, opened the bottom of the fifth inning with a leadoff double. Freshman first baseman Cole Brincefield laid down an intended sacrifice bunt, but Bell scored on a throwing error to first by Trojans pitcher Conor Hourigan.

The trio of transfered players came after the fall semester of 2019, just before the season began. Rams’ head coach Ron Scott was glad to have that kind of talent join the team and contribute so early.

“It sure makes you better coaches,” said Scott.

The sixth inning was a bright spot for the Rams. In the top of the inning, a ground ball seemed to set up a double play until it kicked off the shortstop’s glove until it kicked off the glove of freshman shortstop Bret Carrell. Disaster was averted when sophomore second baseman Joey Popejoy barehanded the booted ball to complete the double play and end the inning. 

“We work hard on defense, so we end up making some nice defensive plays. We play like we practice,” said Scott.

In the bottom of the inning, freshman outfielder Connor Martin hit a monster solo homer to pad the lead. The Rams would stay there despite giving up a run in the top of the eighth after Skyline outfielder Jack Harris drove in a run with a double.

The moment was bittersweet for the Trojans, as a perfect relay from the right fielder Ortiz and Rams’ sophomore shortstop Antonio Noriega gunned down Harris down at third to end the inning.

“We made a lot of nice plays on defense. Had a couple of clutch hits. Obviously, we still have a lot of work to do, but we’re getting there,” said Scott.

The Rams will host Chabot College at home on Friday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 8 at 1 p.m.