BARSTOW • The postseason is not that far off, and the Vikings are getting ready.
Barstow hosted a non-league game against Compton Center on Friday and went about it in a somewhat unorthodox manner. The home team used four pitchers, each tossing two or three innings, and the Vikings never really seemed to get in sync against their opponent, as the Tartars won, 3-0.
Unlike the Vikings, the Tartars used one pitcher, as Charles Cantrell got the complete-game win. Cantrell kept the Vikings off-balance for the entire game, with Barstow, a team that usually collects hits in the double figures, managing only five singles.
Vikings ace Josh King got the start, but pitched just the first two frames.
"With a non-conference game, I wanted to take a different approach," said BCC head coach Nate Lambdin. "Josh has been getting a start every week, and I wanted to keep that pattern going. So he got a couple of innings, but I want our bullpen to stay sharp, too. It's all about preparing for Rio Hondo next week."
With King slated to start against Rio Tuesday, he was run out to the mound on Friday just to keep loose. He gave up a run and three hits over two innings, walking none and striking out one. There was a 1-2-3 first, in which the pitcher allowed a one-out single, then helped himself by picking the runner off first base. In the second, Oscar Munoz singled, and Casey Chenoweth doubled him home.
King was followed by two innings each from Santino Bejarano and Josh Hendley. Compton scored twice in the third on a two-run homer by Chris Jacobs, and Bejarano notched a scoreless fourth, facing just four batters. Hendley scattered two hits over two scoreless innings, and Gilbert Rodriguez finished up with three scoreless, hitless frames, striking out three.
"Those guys were all effective, especially the last two," said Lambdin of his bullpen. "Bejarano fell behind a couple of hitters and left one pitch up, but he hadn't thrown in a while, so I wanted to get him a couple of innings.
"Our whole approach was different, offensively. We were shut down."
A team that has been getting hits in bunches this season was quiet on Friday. The Vikings never got a runner past second base and were set down in order four times. James Carraway singled in his first two at-bats, and there were also singles by Gabriel Soto, Marcos Sanchez and Joshua Gray, who got the start at third base.
"We had a difficult time with their pitcher," said coach Lambdin. "I was hoping to get to their bullpen, but we never did."
Cantrell finished with a line of no runs on five hits, no walks, and nine strikeouts. He also balked and hit one batter.
There's another non-league game today against Porterville, then a three-game series with Rio Hondo next week.
"I'm disappointed we lost, but we got in some much-needed work on the mound," said Lambdin. "Next week is a pivotal series, it will give us a gauge of if we're a playoff team or not. We kind of control our own destiny with nine conference games left. If we go at least 5-4, we'll likely get a playoff berth."
The Vikings are currently 16-8, 10-5. Today's game will start at 12 noon at BCC. There will be a home game against Rio Hondo Thursday at 2:30 p.m.