Hong, Smith go deep on Walk-Off Sunday
LOS ANGELES – Critics are calling it Walk-Off Sunday.
Riley Smith (Bellevue, Wash.) hit a solo shot to deep left center that bounced off the tape and over the wall to beat La Sierra 4-3 in Game 1.
And then Scott Hong (Los Angeles) hit a no-doubter to nearly the same spot in Game 2, breaking a scoreless tie in the 10th inning and giving Oxy a 2-0 win in the second of two thrilling victories at Anderson Field on Saturday.
"I'm going to get old really quick winning like that," said 29-year-old head coach Luke Wetmore. "I don't know that I've ever heard of doubleheader where both games have ended with walk-off home runs."
Smith turned on a fastball with a full count and one out in the bottom of the ninth for his first home run of the season.
Hong tattooed a monster shot, his first of the season and fourth of his Oxy career, sending his teammates into a frenzy at home plate and the Golden Eagles home devastated by their second crushing defeat.
On top of his shot in extra innings that ended the second game in the tenth, Hong was also the winning pitcher after throwing a perfect top-half of the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
"There is a reason why (Hong) was an All-Region guy as a utility player last season," Wetmore said. "The guy can just play and he does a lot of everything to help us win. If he's not the best all-around player in the SCIAC this year, he's certainly in that conversation."
Smith went 2 for 6 with one RBI and one run scored on the doubleheader and Hong finished the day 3 for 8, with three runs, two RBIs and a stolen base.
Three freshmen combined for eight innings of shut-out work in Game 2. C.J. Maruyama (Danville) got his first collegiate start, hurling 6.1 scoreless innings in which he recorded six strikeouts and allowed only three hits. Josh Bendig (Valencia) came on with one out in the 7th after Maruyama walked La Sierra's Rico Alanis and grounded Michael Hinojos into a fielder's choice. Bendig then struck out Josh Fernandez to erase the potential go-ahead run and retire the side. Trevor Lecka (Newbury Park) came on in the 8th, pitching a three-up, three-down inning in which he recorded one strikeout. Additionally, Thomas Lalli (Bountiful, Utah) came on in relief of Joseph Kling (Kirksville, Mo.) in Game 1, striking out two through one inning on the bump.
"All the freshmen pitchers came in with big expectations" Wetmore said. "I was more impressed with their demeanor than their stuff. They pitched and acted like they belong in college baseball. We're really excited to have them on campus."
Game 1 was a back-and-forth contest, with Oxy scoring first in the bottom of the first inning. Hong singled to center and stole second on the ensuing at-bat before Logan Allen (Atascadero) bunted for a base hit that advanced Hong to third. Victor Munoz (La Verne) drove in Hong on a fielder's choice grounder to second. Munoz and Pedro Aldape (Sherman Oaks) each recorded sacrifice flies in the third and fifth frames, respectively, driving in Allen and Hong. La Sierra tacked on one run in the top of the sixth, knotting the score at three apiece until Smith struck in the bottom of the ninth.
Munoz finished the afternoon 2 for 6 with two RBIs, a stolen base and caught two runners attempting to steal while Aldape and Allen combined for four hits to complement an RBI and a run scored.
The Tigers (6-0) take to the diamond again on Feb. 15 at 2:30 p.m. when they host Chapman. The team will also travel to Chapman for another doubleheader on Feb. 16 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.