Baseball team edged in 12 innings by Fullerton in OEC opener

Baseball team edged in 12 innings by Fullerton in OEC opener

There wasn't much separating the Irvine Valley and Fullerton baseball teams in the Orange Empire Conference opener for both teams on Thursday at IVC.

That was until the 12th inning.

After no runs through 11 innings, Fullerton pushed across two runs in the ninth and went on to beat Irvine Valley, 2-0.

Irvine Valley's record slipped to 8-6 overall, while Fullerton, which is ranked No. 19 in Southern California, improved to 11-3.

Both starting pitchers were impressive in the contest.

Irvine Valley's Justin Zielinski, who came into the game having allowed just one earned run so far this year and sporting a 0.31 ERA, threw nine scoreless innings.

He gave up just seven hits and no walks and struck out one. Zielinski actually lowered his ERA to 0.24 on the year.

Fullerton starter Gordon Cardenas also pitched nine scoreless innings. He gave up six hits and two walks and had three strikeouts.

Irvine Valley had its best chance to score in the bottom of the 11th inning against Hornet relief pitcher Randall Ortiz.

The Lasers put a runner on third with just one out, but couldn't score him.

Freshman first baseman Lucas Tancas, who leads IVC in batting average on the year, doubled to left to start the bottom of the 11th.

Freshman designated hitter Robbie Espinosa then sacrificed Tancas to third.

But sophomore third baseman Adam Vargas popped out to the catcher and then freshman catcher Branden Williams flew out to right to end the inning.

In the top of the 12th inning with one out, Fullerton came up with four straight hits against IVC freshman reliever Joseph Chacon.

Trent Hammond singled to left field and then Riley Roberts singled to left, advancing Hammond to third base.

Catcher Bill Austin hit a grounder up the middle to bring in Hammond for the first run of the game. And then John Orlando doubled to right center to bring in Roberts and make it 2-0.

Freshman Andrew Jimenez came to pitch after that and was able to get out of the inning.

IVC had freshman pinch-hitter Trey Ryan single with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, but Ortiz got IVC freshman center fielder Dillon Millar to ground out to end the game.

Fullerton finished with 13 hits on the day, while Irvine Valley ended with nine.

The Lasers left 11 runners on base.

Millar went 3 for 6 in the game and also had IVC's best play defensively.

He threw out a Hornet runner at home trying to score from second on base hit with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to help keep the game scoreless.

Williams, who was solid behind the plate all game for Irvine Valley, finished 2 for 4 with a walk. Sophomore right fielder Brett Hamilton went 2 for 5 for IVC.

Julio Rivera went 3 for 4, Roberts was 2 for 5 and Austin went 2 for 2 for Fullerton.

Ortiz picked up the win, going three scoreless innings. He gave up three hits and had two strikeouts.

Chacon took the loss for Irvine Valley. He allowed two runs on six hits with a strikeout in 2.1 innings.

Irvine Valley plays again on Saturday (weather permitting) at 12 p.m. against Riverside.

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