The University of Redlands baseball team took on Concordia University (TX) in the final game of the Cactus Classic on Sunday morning in Tucson, AZ. Both teams knocked 13 hits behind an incredible pitching duel that led to three innings of free baseball. Unfortunately for the Maroon and Gray, the Tornados roped a sharp line drive down the left-field line in the 12th for the winning runs.
Senior pitcher Noah Jones (San Bernardino, CA) took the bump for Redlands in the team's fourth game in three days. Concordia started off the first inning with base runners, but senior catcher Rainier Aguilar (San Bernardino, CA) picked up his pitcher by catching a pop-up foul-out and picking off the runner at third for two quick outs. Jones took care of the third with a strikeout looking.
The top of the second inning cruised by a little faster, as the defense rolled up a successful double play. The Tornados jumped on the board in the third on two hits for one run.
With one on in the bottom of the third, senior third basemen Brendan Gardiner (Mission Viejo, CA) laced a single up the middle to advance senior second basemen Will Hall (Seattle, WA) to second. They successfully executed the double steal, which set up Aguilar's hit to right field for two RBI and the 2-1 lead.
Jones built off of that by coming out even stronger and going three-up, three-down, to quickly put his team back on offense. In the bottom of the fourth, sophomore designated hitter Andrew Renteria (Van Nuys, CA) singled through the left side and advanced to second when the left fielder bobbled the ball. He took third on a groundout and then raced home when senior right fielder Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA) sent a single to left for an RBI.
Both pitchers made quick work of the fifth inning for zeroes on the box score. But the Tornados executed their offense by putting up three runs on three hits to go ahead 4-3 in the sixth.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Hall stepped up to the plate and crushed a ball over the right-field wall for the equalizing run.
First-year pitcher Cal Bridges (Fremont, CA) took over duties on the mound in the eighth and retired all three batters in order. Bridges was also solid in the ninth.
With the score still knotted, the Bulldogs headed into their second extended game in as many days. First-year pitcher Nick Hammel (San Diego, CA) also provided solid relief in the 10th inning, earning one strikeout and forcing a ground ball for the defense to turn two.
Redlands managed to load the bases in the bottom of the 10th but struggled to bring anyone home.
Head Coach Aaron Holley sent out another first-year pitcher, allowing Matt Crow (Lake Elsinore, CA) to gain quality experience in the 11th inning. With a runner on, Crow stayed cool under pressure, recording the first two outs by way of strikeout, while the defense took care of the third.
Like the 10th inning, Redlands had opportunities to score but couldn't muster the offense for anyone to cross the plate.
However, Concordia rallied in the 12th and roped a sharp line drive down the left-field line for two RBI.
Although the Maroon and Gray had a base runner in the 12th, the Tornados snagged a fly-out and turned the double play to hold on to their lead and send the Bulldogs home with a tough, 4-6 loss.
Renteria went 4-for-6 with a double on the day, while Aguilar provided a 3-for-6 performance with two doubles and two RBI.
Redlands (3-1) heads back to The Yard to host Chapman University in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) opener on Friday, February 16, at 2:30 p.m.