The Live Oak Lions varsity baseball team, which was coming off a close loss to Pierce last week, had only one win on the season when the Esparto Spartans came to town on Thursday. However, the Lions were unable to add another win to their record before the season ended as they lost 5-1 and 7-6 against Esparto as part of a double-header. Due to the previously scheduled meeting between the clubs being rained out, it was decided that the make-up game would be played before the scheduled game, resulting in a baseball double-header.
In the first game, the Lions and Spartans stayed very even through the first half of the game. Despite a few hits from both teams, neither side was able to score a run until the 5th inning. Part of this was due to the stellar pitching of both teams. In fact, the pitching staff for the Lions and the Spartans combined for twelve strikeouts through the first four innings.
The top of the 5th inning was where the Spartans made their run, scoring four of their five runs during that set of at-bats. It all started when the lead-off batter, Juan Bermudez, reached first base on an error. The next batter, Dan Acevedo, then singled, sending Bermudez to second base. After a Lions strikeout, Vic Neville reached first on an error to load the bases. Then, Darren Erickson broke the game wide open by smashing a 2 RBI double to bring in Bermudez and Acevedo and move Neville to third base. The next batter, Ethan Chrisp, kept the action going by hitting an RBI sacrifice fly to center field that brought in Neville. After the Lions gave up a walk to Martin Corona, Erickson, who had advanced to third base on a wild pitch, was able to score on another Lions error. However, the Lions did not allow any more runs before they obtained their third out.
After keeping the Lions scoreless in the bottom of the 5th inning, the Spartans were able to add one more run to their total in the 6th inning. Bermudez led-off the inning with a double and would later score the Spartans’ fifth run by stealing home base.
The Lions and the Spartans were unable to add more runs in each of their next set of at-bats. In the bottom of the seventh and final inning, the Lions were able to score one run to prevent a Spartans shutout, but it was not enough to get the Lions the win. The run came courtesy of Steven Garcia, who led-off the bottom of the 7th inning with a walk and later scored on a Spartans error.
After a short rest, both teams were back at it for the second game of the back-to-back doubleheader. In order to keep things fair to the Spartans, the teams swapped batting times for each inning. So, even though the Lions were home and home teams usually bat second in each inning, the Lions batted first in each inning for the second game.
The second game came right down to the wire. However, the Lions took charge early, scoring two runs to open up the game. With two outs, Garcia singled to start a two out rally. The next batter, Jevin Cheema, followed Garcia’s hit with an RBI triple that brought Garcia in for the score. Cheema would later score in the inning off a passed ball by the Spartans.
There was no more scoring until the top of the third inning, when the Lions were able to break out to a 4-0 lead. After Martin Robles reached first base on a fielder’s choice, Robles was able to steal two bases to reach third base. Garcia then brought Robles in on an RBI single. Like Robles, Garcia was able to steal two bases and reach third base. This time, an RBI groundout by Cheema allowed Garcia to score.
Despite holding a 4-0 lead, the Spartans kept fighting and scored their first runs of the game in the bottom of the third inning, both of them coming with two outs. Three straight walks helped load the bases by the time James Schwenger came up to bat. Schwenger came up big, hitting a 2 RBI single to bring in Erickson and Chrisp to cut the lead to 4-2 after three innings.
The Lions answered right back with a run of their own at the top of the 4th inning. With one out, Dave Ortega smashed a double. Ortega was then able to come home on an RBI single by the next batter, Omar Gorsi.
The Spartans didn’t let that run affect them as they scored three runs to tie the game 5-5 in the bottom of the 4th inning. A single by Alex Tellez and two walks with one out set things up for the Spartans. Chrisp took advantage of the situation, crushing a 2 RBI single to bring in Tellez and Neville. Chrisp would later score on a Lions error to tie the game at five runs apiece.
The Lions broke the tie at the top of the 5th inning when Garcia collected his third hit of the game, which was a double. Cheema then hit a single to bring in Garcia. On the play, Garcia scored his third run and Cheema racked up his third RBI of the game.
The Lions were able to hold their 6-5 advantage until the bottom of the 6th inning. During that set of at bats, the Spartans tied the game once again. With one out, Erickson singled and then stole two bases. After a walk and a player being hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded once more for Schwenger. This time, Schwenger collected an RBI after he was hit by a pitch, forcing Erickson to score. Heading into the final inning, the score was tied 6-6.
The Lions were unable to score a run during their final set of at-bats. The Lions started the bottom of the 7th well, throwing out Zach Harmon on a bunt. However, the Lions gave up a walk to the next batter, Tellez. The next two batters also were walked, resulting in a bases-loaded situation with one out. Then Chrisp came to the plate. Chrisp, who already had two RBIs, made the biggest play of the day when he crushed a walk-off RBI double to bring in Tellez for the winning run.
It was a devastating 7-6 loss for the Lions varsity baseball squad, which now boasts only two wins over the course of the last two seasons. Despite their recent history, the Lions have continued to hold their heads high and stay positive, and sure enough, there are strong points from this season that everyone will hope to build on for next year.