Riverside loses conference opener in baseball

Deuces were wild as defending Orange Empire Conference (OEC) champion Santa Ana College (SAC) opened conference play with an 11-2 win over the Riverside City College (RCC) Tigers Thursday afternoon at the Evans Sports Complex.

The SAC Dons (12-4, 1-0 OEC) posted a pair of runs in each of the first three innings to quickly put Riverside (9-7, 0-1 OEC) in a hole.

In the first inning with two outs, freshman 1B Chris Miller singled to left field and went to second when the ball skipped past sophomore LF Bryce Holland for an error. Miller went to third on a wild pitch before sophomore C James Davis drew a walk. Up stepped sophomore RF Jake Eccles who promptly socked a 0-1 pitch down the left-field line for a two-run double and Santa Ana led, 2-0. Little did anyone realize that Eccles was just getting started on a seven-RBI day.

In the Santa Ana third inning, Davis singled to center and Eccles crushed a 1-1 pitch to straightaway left field for a two-run home run, his team-leading eighth round tripper of the season.

For good measure in the top of the ninth, Eccles capped the four-run uprising with a three-run home run to dead center field for his ninth circuit clout of the year.

Riverside got on the board in the bottom of the third. Sophomore SS Richie Jimenez drew a one-out walk before sophomore C Brett Hambright stroked a run-producing double to right-center field, scoring Jimenez. With two outs, pinch-hitter Landon McMath, who inherited a 0-2 count, took a pitch for ball one and then turned on a 1-2 pitch and laced a RBI-double down the left-field line, plating Hambright.

Santa Ana starter, sophomore LHP Nick Capito went the first six innings and allowed only two earned runs on six hits to improve to 3-0. Riverside starter, Kessler Reifel (0-1) went just 2-1/3 innings and allowed six runs (four earned) on five hits to get the loss.

Both teams return to OEC action on Saturday, Feb. 28, at noon when Riverside visits the Fullerton College Hornets and Santa Ana hosts the Cypress College Chargers.