Lompoc’s standout sophomore keeps improving
The first time through the lineup, Lompoc pitcher Joseph Osegueda was perfect. The second time through, Nipomo was able to get some base runners, but could not do much to hurt Lompoc.
Meanwhile, Lompoc took advantage of four Nipomo errors and cruised to a 7-1 Los Padres League baseball victory at Dan Bodary Field Tuesday afternoon.
Improving to 3-0 in league play, the Braves had 11 hits, including three from Tyler Ornelas and a pair of hits each for Jordan Pickles, Chris Taitague and Josh Mallory.
Nipomo (1-2 LPL), had three singles in the game against Lompoc’s super sophomore. Osegueda had six strikeouts in the first three innings, then had the luxury of another solid defensive effort behind him.
“He has just kind of matured right in front of our eyes,” said Lompoc coach Jim Allen. “He’s a lot further along than we thought he would be right now. He has good command of the strike zone, forces contact and he can get the strikeout when he needs one.
“He’s bought into our entire approach of pitching. By doing that, he’s been effective — the key is strike one and he’s been doing a great job of jumping ahead and then forcing the batters into pitcher’s counts.”
Lompoc scored two runs in the second inning to get on the board first. Miguel Salas walked to open the inning, Jeremy Terrones reached on an infield error and Mallory followed with a single to load the bases.
Salas scored on a passed ball before Pickles singled home Terrones. In the third inning, Salas reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored when Terrones again reached first on an error.
“We’re hitting the ball hard and we’re putting a lot of pressure on the defense,” Allen explained. “If we can consistently hit the ball hard like that, those things will play themselves out.”
Nipomo’s first base hit of the game came when Scott Nichols led off the fourth with a single. He was sacrificed to second, but Osegueda retired the next two batters on ground outs.
The Titans did score in the fifth after Matt Albright led off with a single, went to second when Robby Cano was hit by a pitch, was sacrificed to third and scored on a groundout by Taylor Innoya.
“He’s a pretty good pitcher,” said first year Nipomo head coach Rich Leavens. “He’s the best we’ve seen so far this year. Our bats were better the second time through and you like to see that, but there are no moral victories out there.”
Lompoc erupted for five hits in the sixth and, with the help of two more Nipomo errors, scored four more runs. The big hits were a two-run single by Ornelas and RBI singles from Mallory and Justin Guzman.
“We made a couple of mistakes, but it still boils down to when you score only one run, it’s tough to win.”
One concern for Allen is the fact that the Braves left 11 runners on base.
“We left some runs out there and that’s something we need to work on,” Allen said. “We had the bases loaded early on and second and third early on and didn’t score, so there’s always room for improvement — when you have less than two outs, you have to score those runs.
“Some guys went up and went out of their zone a little bit and lost their approaches somewhat — but they’re getting there.”
Nipomo has youth on the field, starting a freshman and a pair of sophomores, but Leavens knows the Titans are a work in progress.
“We’ve been a ‘win one, lose one’ type of club so far,” he explained. “I think transition is difficult when you bring in a new head coach, but the kids work hard and I don’t have any complaints.”
Nipomo starting pitcher Chase Streff did not pitch poorly, it was the defense behind him that hurt.
“Our pitching has been really good so far,” Leavens continued. “It’s been the bright spot of our club up to this point. And for the most part our defense has been pretty good — the problem we’ve run into is when we’ve been really good defensively, we’ve won and when we’ve made mistakes, we have lost.”
In three league games the Braves have scored 29 runs.
“Since the Arroyo Grande game (a 10-9 win), we’ve been scoring a lot of runs and getting good swings on the ball,” Allen said. “And we’ve been taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes.”
Lompoc will next play Saturday against Dos Pueblos, as part of the Anaheim Lions Club Tournament, while Nipomo plays Friday at Santa Ynez.