King baseball team stops Norco from winning first Big VIII League series of the season – Press Enterprise

NORCO — King baseball coach Steve Madril believes pitching depth is his team’s greatest strength.

Austin Castillo, Matt Hudson and Masen Swan all appeared at different times during Friday afternoon’s game as Wolves defeated Norco 3-2 to win the rubber game of the first Big VIII League series.

“The three went down really well with us. And the good thing for us is that there are more people who can go in and do the work,” Madril said. “In this league where you typically play three games in a week, the depth of your staff is tested. And we were fortunate to get two games out of that streak.”

That streak actually began last Saturday when King clinched a 6-5 win on a Ryder DeJournett walkoff double. Norco evened things out on Monday when Aaron Cazares fired a four-hit in a 4-0 win.

Norco (8-2, 1-2 in the league) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Grant Gray led with a single, moved up to third in two wild pitches and scored with a one-out single from Cameron Kim. The Cougars missed an opportunity to extend their lead and pinned two runners on bases, which would become a recurring theme Friday.

Norco had two ons with nobody out in the second inning, but Castillo gave up three consecutive batsmen to keep the Cougars off the board. King answered in the third when freshman Noah Haros leaped at a first-pitch fastball from Ryan Jenkins and hammered the ball over the fence in straightway midfield.

“I don’t like falling behind on the count,” Haros said. “I think that home run really boosted our energy.”

Castillo pulled off his biggest escape act in the bottom third of the third. Kim, Cole Hansen and Logan Ortega had three straight singles to load the bases with no outs. However, Castillo would settle down. He knocked out the next two batters and induced an inning-ending ground ball to third base to keep the score at 1.

King (7-2, 2-1) took the lead in the fourth inning when Jake Mitchell doubled Adrian Diaz with an out. Diaz extended that lead to 3-1 when he homed the sixth inning from opposite field to right field.

Castillo’s pitch count was 68 after three frames, so Madril handed the ball to Hudson to start the fourth. Hudson was perceptive and put down the first eight batters he faced. Five of those outs came on strikeouts.

“He was our best backup pitcher last season, so we decided to use him two or three times a week when we can,” said Madril. “We had to get to him a little earlier than we might have wanted, but he gave us some important innings today.”

Norco had two ons with two outs in the sixth, but Hudson got Grant Gray to hit a long flyball into right field.

Hudson got into trouble in the seventh inning. Jacob Kruswicki led into right midfield with a long double and Cole Hansen brought Kruswicki home with another double into the same gap.

Madril turned to Swan to end the game. Things didn’t start well as Swan knocked Ortega down on his second throw. But Swan rebounded to right field with a strikeout and a flyball to end the threat.

“Of course I was a little nervous, but I just have to stick with my training and trust my mechanics,” said Swan, who was relieved to win at the start of the series. “Things always seem to hit the spot in this league, but we always fight to the end… Finding a way to win two close games is big this streak.”

Norco left 11 runners on base, six in scoring position. The Cougars left nine on base in the opening game.

Jenkins pitched six innings Friday afternoon and facilitated the three runs with five hits while striking out nine.


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