Falcons Defeat #6 Merced College to Stay in Playoff Race

Coalinga CA, - Head coach Stefan McGovern and the West Hills College baseball squad (18-4, 8-7) took Saturday's conference matchup vs. 20th ranked Merced College (13-2) by the score of 4-2. Cold and windy weather made it a difficult day for hitters on both sides. West Hills starting pitcher Chad Gotto backed his squad with a strong seven-inning performance while striking out nine Blue Devils batters. The win moves Gotto's record to 7-2 on the season. The double play ball played into the hand of West Hills as the Falcons managed to turn three key double plays and get out of potential big innings for Merced.

The Blue Devils jumped to an early lead in the ballgame. A single over leaping shortstop Jake Lorenzini started off the inning for Merced. The runner then stole second and was moved to third base on a throwing error. A chopper to second base drove in the first run of the day.
It wasn't until the fourth inning that the Falcons could push across its first run. Alante Uribe got the inning started with a single to left field. Uribe then moved himself into scoring position with a stolen base followed by a Brandon Hernandez single to left field. With runners at the corners a stolen base attempt caused a throwing error from Merced, scoring Uribe.
In the fifth inning WHCC was able to take its first lead of the day. A one out walk to Scotty Ingle started the Falcon rally. Ingle was moved to second base on a Jake Lorenzini single. A walk to Uribe would then load the bases for Brandon Barker. A hit-by-pitch to Barker followed by a wild pitch would bring in two more Falcon runs.
Merced was able to cross one more run in the sixth inning. A leadoff single followed by walk started off the inning. A wild pitch allowed those runners to then move up one base. A sacrifice fly to left-center field was deep enough to drive in the second Merced run of the day.
Torin Miller was able to give West Hills a much-needed insurance run in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Miller led the inning off with a double to the left-center field gap. A passed ball followed by a wild pitch scored Miller and made the score 4-2 in favor of the West Hills.
Fernando Ramirez was called in to relieve Gotto on the mound. Ramirez worked at a smooth pace and forced many batters to swing at pitches low in the zone. The scoreless two innings on the bump earns Ramirez his second save of the season.
A single in the top of the ninth inning tried to spark a late rally for Merced. A double play followed by a fly-out to center field made the game final at:

West Hills 4 – Merced 3