It is becoming a nice trend for the Irvine Valley baseball team. Get strong starting pitching and then find a way to score enough to win. The Lasers beat Santa Barbara City, 3-2, Thursday afternoon in a non-conference game just that way.
It was Irvine Valley's fourth one-run victory of the season and second in two days. The team defeated Southwestern, 3-2, on Wednesday.
The victory Thursday over Santa Barbara, which was ranked 10th in the Southern California preseason poll, improved Irvine Valley's record to 8-4 overall.
"The guys are really buying in and we are having success because of it," Irvine Valley Coach Kent Madole said. "Once again today we got phenomenal starting pitching. That kept us in the game. And then we battled. This was a real battle out here today."
Santa Barbara actually took a 2-0 lead after the first two innings, getting a run in the first and another in the second against IVC starting pitcher Daniel Levine. The runs were the first earned given up by Levine this season. The sophomore right-hander was making his fourth start.
Levine found a groove after that and shut the Vaqueros down over the next five innings.
Irvine Valley scored a run in the bottom of the third off Santa Barbara starting pitcher Kylin Turnbull to make it 2-1. Sophomore catcher Anthony Almeida started the inning with a single. He was sacrificed to second by sophomore shortstop Cole Wilson.
Freshman center fielder Bryce Hara then singled to put runners on first and third. Freshman second baseman Scott Kaplan drove in the run with a fly out to center.
Santa Barbara looked like it might increase its lead in the top of the sixth after a single and a Irvine Valley error put runners on second and third with one out. But Levine got Joe Gonzalez to ground into a double play to end the threat.
Irvine Valley tied the game in the bottom of the seventh. Wilson walked and then Hara bunted to move the runner. But Turnbull, Santa Barbara's pitcher, didn't field the ball cleanly and then in rushing to get Hara at first base, threw the ball away.
IVC had runners on first and third. DJ Gunderson replaced Turnbull on the mound and was immediately called for a balk, which brought in Wilson with the tying run.
Irvine Valley turned to freshman Brendan Cates on the mound in the eighth and ninth innings. "And he did his job," Madole said. "He really grew up out there today. He showed what he can do."
Cates allowed just one walk and had three strikeouts over his two-inning stint. Irvine Valley won the game in the bottom of the ninth. Almeida reached on an error to start the frame. Sophomore Robert Dey came in to pinch run for Almeida. Wilson moved Dey to second with a sacrifice bunt.
And then Bryce Hara singled up the middle off of Gunderson and Dey beat the throw home to end it.
Cates picked up the win to improve his record to 2-0 on the year. Hara finished 3 for 4 with one RBI, freshman first baseman Sean Guite was 2 for 4 and freshman third baseman Nick Martin, Almeida and Wilson also had a hit each for Irvine Valley. Santa Barbara's record slipped to 3-7 overall.
Irvine Valley will play at Santa Barbara on Monday at 1 p.m. Box Score