Huntington Beach, CA – Freshman Ezele Wicks laced a game-winning RBI-single to left with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the Golden West College baseball team to a 4-3 victory over visiting Irvine Valley College in an Orange Empire Conference game Tuesday.
After Irvine Valley took a 3-0 lead in the top of the seventh inning, the Rustlers (11-8, 2-2) scored a pair of runs in the seventh inning and Wicks' RBI-single with the bases loaded capped a two-run in the bottom of the last frame victory for Golden West.
Freshman Josue Lopez (Northwood High) had a big impact at the plate. Lopez entered the game at first base in the top of the seventh after Rustlers catcher Anthony Marquez was struck in the back of the head on an extended swing by Lasers leadoff batter Ben McConnell and left the game, with first baseman Austin Schell shifting to catcher.
In his first at-bat, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Lopez hit a ball in the gap in deep right-center that scored Nelson Padilla and saw Lopez pull into third base for a stand-up triple.
Two innings later, Lopez singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth before being lifted for a pinch-runner. Justin Bushell was hit by a pitch and Trent Whitaker singled to load the bases for Jeremiah Vinson, who was hit by a pitch to drive in the game-tying run. Two batters later, Wicks ended the game.
Wicks went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI, a run scored and two walks. Lopez went 2-for-2 with a triple and an RBI and Padilla went 1-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
Sophomore Troy Bethel was effectively wild. Bethel didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, yet hit two batters. He allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits and struck out six batters. Jesse Meyer pitched a solid two innings to earn the victory. The freshman from Nevada allowed one hit and struck out three batters.
The Rustlers conclude their series with Irvine Valley at noon on Saturday at Hoover Field.