The Cal State Dominguez Hills baseball team proved Sunday at George Page Stadium in Westchester that offense cannot overcome shoddy defense and pitching. Six errors, one wild pitch and one balk killed the Toros despite their five-run sixth inning that tied the game, 8-8.
Loyola's own five-run sixth leveled Dominguez Hills, and the Lions coasted to a 15-8 win.
But Loyola wasn't about to write off the Toros, who were ranked fourth nationally in Division II when the season started.
"I was a little scared and nervous," Loyola center fielder Brian Turang said after Dominguez Hills erased a 8-3 Lions lead on a four consecutive singles and a home run in the top of the sixth inning.
"I couldn't believe it," added Brian Clancy (1-0), who came on in relief and shut down the Toros for his first win of the season.
Neither Loyola (10-2), the nation's 11th-ranked team, nor Dominguez Hills (3-5) was suspended in disbelief for long.
Turang, who went four for four, roped a double to the right center-field gap to open the bottom of the sixth, moved up on Travis Tarchionne's ensuing single and scored on a wild pitch from Dominguez Hills' loser Armando Gomez. Greg Wall's single advanced Tarchionne, who came around when Rick Allen reached on a fielder's choice. Gomez balked, moving Allen to second, and Loyola freshman Tim Williams tattooed his first collegiate home run into the trees in right field. 12-8, Loyola.
Six-foot-five catcher Miah Bradbury followed with a solo shot into the left-field screen, and once again Loyola held a five-run advantage.
"We didn't catch the ball, and I sure hope we can figure out how to do that soon," said disgruntled Dominguez Hills Coach Andy Lopez. "You just can't win with six errors and no pitching."
That much was clear to Loyola Coach Dave Snow when he pulled starter Scott Neill in favor of freshman Joe Summers, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-hander from Simi Valley, after the Toros touched up Neill for three runs in the fourth and one to open the sixth.
Summers, a converted outfielder, yielded three runs on two singles and a home run and would not have retired one Toro if third baseman Don Sparks had not completed a force play at second after diving--and fielding--Joe Jones' sharp grounder headed for the hole.
"Summers threw the ball flat and out over the plate," Snow said. "He's just a pup, and we just have to be patient with him."
Clancy ended the sixth-inning Toro rally easily before Loyola exploded in the bottom of the inning .
Clancy, who saw only his second appearance of the season, was elated after sending down 11 of 15 Toros. The 6-foot right-hander from Reseda gave up three consecutive hits in his first outing when Loyola lost one of two at Arizona State, but he rebounded with just four hits and no runs in 3 innings against Dominguez Hills.
"I had something to prove to myself and to my teammates," Clancy said, "and I think I did that. I'm real excited."
Snow was impressed with the Lions' ability to stay enthused after losing five-run leads in the fourth and sixth innings.
"They handled it well. They didn't change their mood at all," Snow said. "We played aggressively at the beginning and we maintained that."
Starter Neill's beginning must have scared the Lions. Dominguez Hills designated hitter Bob Gonzalez laced Neill's first pitch of the game into right field.
But Neill then sent the side down in order and seemed untouchable until the fourth. Damon Nidlinger opened the inning for Dominguez Hills with shot into the screen in left field. First baseman Jeff Sears followed with a screeching double off the left center-field wall and Chris Haslock nailed a 2-2 fast ball that landed in line with Sears shot, only 40 feet higher, making it 5-3.
Neill again retired Dominguez Hills in order in the fifth inning and looked comfortable. But his appearance was deceiving, Snow said.
"Scott's a gamer, but he's had arm problems," Snow said. "He told us his arm felt tired."