Strong pitching pushes Fullerton past Cypress

Pitching, which has been the Achilles Heel for the Fullerton squad this year, showed up big in the second game of a series with Cypress during conference play.
Hornets freshman Ethan Moran closed the game out on the mound, pitching a gem of a game against Cypress facing 18 batters while only allowing four hits and one run on Thursday, March 14, 2024.
Hornets freshman Ethan Moran closed the game out on the mound, pitching a gem of a game against Cypress facing 18 batters while only allowing four hits and one run on Thursday, March 14, 2024.
Danielle Rivera

The Hornets held a pitching clinic against the Chargers. As the duo of sophomore Ari Kligman and freshman Ethan Moran came up huge for the team, leading them to a 7-2 victory on a windy Thursday afternoon at Fullerton College.

Kligman (3-0) got his first win after five straight no-decisions, which kept him unbeaten so far this season. The hard throwing Moran earned his first save of the season in only his second relief appearance.

Moran started three games this season and will continue to pitch in both the starting rotation and the bullpen in a hybrid role according to Hornets manager Chad Baum. He described that to be an advantage compared to other teams.

“We have an advantage over a lot of teams that don’t have four real starters right now,” said Baum. “He (Moran) started four games in the non-conference and with his workload he’s able to go 70 pitches. So, we basically got two guys throwing 70 pitches today and that is good.”

Sophomore third baseman Ryan Kirk delivering a leaping throw to nab a Cypress runner at first base on Thursday, March 14, 2024. (Danielle Rivera)

The pitchers held the Chargers to a combined six hits and two runs over nine innings combined. Both allowed just one walk each and struck out three hitters a piece.

The Hornets pitching staff needed this jolt of energy as they came into this game middle of the pack in OEC play in earned run averages.

After taking an early lead after the first, the visiting Chargers committed two errors in the bottom half of the first inning that loaded the bases for the Hornets, but Fullerton was unable to capitalize on the Chargers mistakes, leaving all the runners stranded.

In the next frame the Hornets loaded the bases yet again, this time coming from Chargers sophomore pitcher Hunter Drake hitting two batters back-to-back. In the on-deck circle, freshman right fielder Noah Rodriguez began taking practice swings when Baum called for him and gave him the green light to swing away. Rodriguez waited for a 2-1 opportunity to hit a hard line drive to deep left center field for a two-run RBI double.

“I just wanted to take my best swing,” said Rodriguez. “Sometimes I can get out of my swing, but when I put my best swing up there, I can do some damage.”

The Hornets continued to hit the ball too hard for the Chargers (14-7, 1-4) as Cypress made another crucial error that led to another pair of runs extending the Hornets lead to 4-1.

Sophomore outfielder Rudy Gonzales put the final exclamation point on the inning, ripping a two run double into left field, making the game 6-1 and having Fullerton in full control of the game.

Each team scored a pair of runs in the following innings, but the Hornets had too much of a cushion that allowed their pitching staff to stay aggressive throughout the entirety of the game.

Sophomore outfielder Diego Franco sliding in with a save in left field holding a runner from advancing to an extra base on Thursday March 13, 2024. (Danielle Rivera)

Despite Cypress having five errors in the game and the wind blowing in favor of the Hornets, Baum continued to coach consistency to his players.

“We’re concerned with ourselves and do what we do, and our job is to take and execute our swing consistently,” said Baum. “So, they make an error, great, if we take a good swing and they don’t make an error, great too, stay with the process.”

This game notched the third win for the Hornets in the Orange Empire Conference, placing them in fourth place in the OEC standings. Meanwhile, Cypress earned their third loss in a row, which put them in sixth place. The Hornets have the opportunity to sweep the Chargers Saturday, March 16 at noon on the road at Cypress.

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