By Michelle Gardner
RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The Chaffey College baseball team isn’t just about offense after all.
Sophomore left-hander Andrew Steinmeyer proved that, pitching the Panthers to a 6-2 win over Foothill Conference foe Antelope Valley Tuesday. It was Chaffey’s first complete game of the season and came in the school’s last home game of the regular season.
Steinmeyer (5-1) needed just 119 pitches to dispose of the Marauders. The Corona native gave up two runs (both unearned), scattered four hits, walked none and struck out five.
“I was getting some calls on the inside fastball,” Steinmeyer said. “My curveball wasn’t great but I was able to throw for strikes a couple of times when I really needed it.”
Steinmeyer allowed lone runs in the second and sixth innings, an outfield error giving the Marauders (13-22, 7-12) the first and one by the catcher helping them to the other.
But Chaffey (27-8, 18-3) managed enough offense to make up for those miscues. It got one in the first, then took the lead with a pair in the second, with James Koerner singling and scoring on a hit by Robert Escalera who later raced home on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Costantino.
The Panthers added to that in the fifth, extending its lead to 4-1 on a run-scoring double by Ryan Delgado.
They rounded out the scoring in the sixth with another pair. This time it was Costantino driving home a run and Mychal Johnson plating another with a ground out.
Antelope Valley threatened in the ninth as pinch hitter Jake Wood and Bryan Rasch singled with two outs, putting runners on the corners. The Chaffey pitching coach George Barnes made a trip to the mound just to give his pitcher a breather.
“He told me they were sticking with me, just to bear down,” Steinmeyer said.
The respit worked as Steinmeyer got the next hitter, Chase Doremus, on check swing to end the game.
The Panthers tallied nine hits with Ryan Delgado, Willie Holmes and Escalera getting two each. Costantino had two RBI and Johnson, Koerner and Escalera each scored twice.
About the only thing bothering coach Jeff Harlow after the game was the way his team ran the bases. It had three runners picked off the basepaths, the most notable problem coming in the third when it got its first two runners on, only to have them picked off in successive at-bats.
“That is definitely something we’re going to have to address before we get in the playoffs,” he said. “It didn’t hurt us here, but it did prevent us from blowing the game open and when you get in the playoffs you’re not going to have a lot of chances.”
Steinmeyer has combined with another sophomore, right-hander Andrew Schile, to give the Panthers a formidable 1-2 combination on the mound. Harlow said the duo is looking as strong as they did early in the season.
“They both pitched gems our first two games of the season,” Harlow recalled. “So it is nice to see us finishing the way we started. Hopefully we’ll carry that momentum into the playoffs.”
The Panthers close out the regular season with a double header against the Marauders at noon Friday at Clear Channel Stadium in Lancaster. The playoff should be announced over the weekend.