Hornets lose series finale, but still qualify for the playoffs


Sophomore right hand pitcher Freddy Castaneda pitched six innings in his start on Friday, April 28, 2023 during at a home game against the Dons. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Pedro Saravia, Staff Writer

With a spot already sealed in the playoffs, The Hornets (21-19) still fought hard, but took a 6-4 loss to the Dons at home during Friday afternoon’s game.

Despite the result, Fullerton’s freshman center fielder Britton Beeson showed his talent again by smashing another home run, this one in a big spot in the bottom of the sixth inning which gave the Hornets a short lived lead at the time. “Britton Beeson, who should be MVP of the conference, just had a fabulous week getting home runs in all games,” said Hornets Manager Chad Baum.

Britton Beeson, the Hornets' freshman outfielder homered a two-run RBI in the 6th inning during a losing effort at home on Friday, April 28, 2023.
Britton Beeson, the Hornets’ freshman outfielder smashed a two-run homer on this swing in the 6th inning during a losing effort at home on Friday, April 28, 2023. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

The game started to take action in top of the second inning as Santa Ana freshman third baseman Matthew Dobson hit a SAC fly out to right field, which scored freshman shortstop Mikey Rocha, putting the Dons (26-14) ahead at the start.

The Hornets responded quickly when sophomore shortstop Jimmy Blumberg collected an infield single, advancing sophomore second baseman Jared Benash and allowing sophomore right fielder Isaiah Marquez to score. Blumberg’s hit was then followed by another single, this one from freshman third baseman Landon Runge, which was enough to push Benash across home plate, putting Fullerton in front 2-1 after two innings.

Trying to take the lead again, the Dons filled up the bases in the top of the third. A base knock from sophomore first baseman Austin Haller and Rocha reaching first on an error allowed the visiting team to claim the lead again 3-2.

Sophomore RHP Freddy Castaneda started the game. He was effective against the Dons, pitching six innings, allowing two earned runs, six hits, punching out five, and taking a no-decision in the contest. His four walks did show however he was struggling with command. Yet, he was able to put out fires all afternoon on the bump.

“I felt my performance could have really been better. There are a couple innings where I tried to do way too much and I should have just kept to myself,” said Castaneda.

During the fourth and fifth innings, both teams’ defenses remained solid. Freshman LHP Jaxton Andeel was solid starting for the Dons as well. He went five innings, gave up two hits, two earned runs, walked three and struck out two Hornets. He also was given a no-decision.

The restless home fans had to wait until the bottom of the sixth inning for a scoreboard change. Freshman first baseman Tank Espalin was granted a walk to first, which set up Beeson to hit in a crucial moment.

The moment was so crucial the Dons manager Tom Nilles called on the RHP in the bullpen for this specific match-up with the right-handed hitting Beeson. That poor soul was freshman reliever CJ Brown. Brown’s first pitch was demolished over the left-center field fence by Beeson, his third home run of the week. This flipped the score to 4-3 in Fullerton’s favor, exciting the local supporters and teammates with the moonshot.

“Beeson hit that home run, I mean there is that spark, you know, that we got to keep going, keep producing, keep hitting,” said freshman DH Diego Franco.

The Hornets tried to keep the pressure on, but failed as Marquez and Franco grounded out, followed by a strike out of Blumberg, calming Brown’s nerves and keeping the score from getting out of hand out for the Dons.

The visitors did not wait long to respond. With sophomore RHP Ryan Chavez now on in relief, Santa Ana collected back-to-back, two out singles from sophomore DH Troy Kent and Haller in the top of the seventh. This left the door open for Rocha. He smacked the game tying single to right field, scoring Kent and knotting things up at 3-3.

Sophomore pitcher Ryan Chavez pitched the last three innings for the Hornets and gave up three runs in a losing effort game at home on Friday, April 28, 2023.
Sophomore pitcher Ryan Chavez pitched the last three innings for the Hornets and gave up three runs in a losing effort game at home on Friday, April 28, 2023. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

In the top of the eighth inning, the Dons managed to take the lead when sophomore pinch hitter Sebastian McSherry singled, then scored from first on an error from a ball put in play by sophomore right fielder Christian Thompson, putting the Dons up 5-4.

Santa Ana added some insurance with a home run from Rocha in the top of the ninth, making the score what it would end at, 6-4 with Chavez taking the loss.

The Dons freshman RHP reliever Joey Iglesias neutralized the Hornets for an inning and two thirds, collecting the save and striking out three of the six batters he faced.

Despite the loss, the Hornets claimed to be excited and expect to have a good playoff run. “I’m an excited man. I’m excited for our coach since it’s his first year [at Fullerton] going to the playoffs. It’s an honor to be here,” said Castaneda. “I’m looking for us to play some hard baseball and close out some teams.”

The Hornets regional opponent and where the playoff series will be played is to be determined.