BARSTOW • The Vikings had full intentions of halting their losing streak at one game.
After losing to Antelope Valley, 9-1, on Tuesday, the Barstow Community College baseball team hosted the Marauder for a rematch on Thursday. This time, the Vikings got on the board first and never trailed, on the way to a 5-2 Foothill Conference win.
It was another example of the Vikings executing the basics, which has been key this season. Head coach Nate Lambdin has been stressing getting ahead of the hitters, and his pitching staff has taken the advice to heart. Josh King got the start on Thursday and gave his team another fine mound effort, keeping the Marauder in check until the BCC offense started kicking in, which didn't take long.
"This is the fourth-straight good performance from Josh," said Lambdin. "He throws strikes; he pounds the zone very consistently and gets ahead."
King gave up two first-inning singles, but some nice defense kept the Marauder from scoring. Sho Serrano led off the game and legged out an infield single, getting to second on a throwing error. When he tried to steal third, however, he was thrown out by King.
"We're improving defensively every day," Lambdin said. "We had a couple of key pick-offs that closed the door on a couple of innings that could have been big. We refined some of our pick-offs for today, and it worked."
After those two first-inning singles, King gave up only one hit through the next four frames. He faced just four batters in each of the second and third, and retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth, striking out the first two batters of the fourth, one swinging, one looking.
The Vikings also got two first-inning hits, singles from Michael McNicholl and James Carraway, but the pair was left on base. The game's first run was scored in the second, as Kris Soto came to the plate with two outs and reached on an error, moved up on singles by Gabriel Soto and Michael Martinez, and came home on a wild pitch.
Matthew Vasquez got the start for AVC and, like King, was also strong through the middle innings. After the run in the second, he set the Vikings down 1-2-3 in the third and fourth, helped by a third-inning 6-4-3 double play. He issued a lead-off walk to Martinez in the fifth, which resulted in the second BCC run. Martinez got all the way to third on an errant pick-off throw, and scored on McNicholl's second single of the game.
Vasquez left after six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out three. Nate Williams relieved, but only induced one out, a successful sac bunt by Gabriel Soto, which moved Martinez, who roped a lead-off single to left, to second. McNicholl was then hit by a pitch and Carraway singled, loading the bases for Marcos Sanchez. Sanchez was also plunked, which drove in a run, and put John Casselman on the mound. Before getting out of the inning, Casselman gave up a two-RBI single to Peter Lelich, making it a 5-0 game.
The Marauder avoided the shutout with two runs in the eighth. The big hit came from Marshall Siordia, whose double to left brought in both runs.
King tossed 7.2 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, walking two and fanning six. Santino Bejarano finished up the eighth, retiring the only batter he faced on a fly to center.
Kris Soto has become the Vikings closer and did another fine job, authoring a three-up three-down ninth. After striking out his first batter, the pitcher got some help from his defense. Bejarano took over at third base and went far into foul territory to track down a pop-up for out number two, while Sanchez went deep in the hole to snag a hard grounder and made the flip to Soto covering first, to end the game.
Kris Soto is 6-for-6 in save opportunities, while King won his fourth start.
"We're fortunate to have a closer like Soto, he throws strikes," said coach Lambdin. "We haven't used him as much recently because we've been scoring a lot, but it's great to have him when we need him. He comes in and we breathe a sigh of relief."
The Vikings rapped out 10 hits. Carraway went 3-for-4, while Martinez and McNicholl each had two singles. Lelich had two RBI, with one each from McNicholl and Sanchez. Defensively there were two errors, but neither was damaging.
"It's all about minimizing mistakes, while capitalizing on the opponent's mistakes," Lambdin said. "Today we kept a normally aggressive team in check."
The win improves the Vikings to 10-3, 4-1, with the Marauder falling to 6-5-1, 2-3. The CCCBCA has Barstow ranked 14th in the state.
The Vikings will play at Antelope Valley on Saturday, and will be back home next Tuesday, hosting Mt. San Jacinto at 2 p.m.
"We're going to be tough to beat at home," said Lambdin. "How we perform on the road will be key. Antelope Valley has artificial turf, so we'll have to prepare for that."