The University of Redlands baseball team faced off against the No. 22 University of Texas at Dallas on the second day of the Cactus Classic. Under pristine conditions in Tucson, AZ, a back-and-forth, offensive battle ensued that resulted in a knotted score through nine innings. Behind solid pitching, the Bulldogs scored one in the top of the 10th and held off the Comets in the bottom to secure the 9-8 victory.
With senior pitcher Felix Minjarez (Riverside, CA) on the bump for the Bulldogs, both teams dealt a solid start through the first two innings.
Senior center fielder Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA) started off the third with a hard infield single before subsequently stealing second and reaching third on an error. Senior second basemen Will Hall (Seattle, WA) laid down a successful bunt and used his speed to beat out the throw at first, while Kabeary crossed home plate for the 1-0 advantage. Two more singles sent Hall home for the Bulldogs' early two-run lead.
With new energy, Minjarez got his team back on offense by striking out two of the four next batters in the bottom of the third.
However, things quickly changed, as the Comets lit up the scoreboard with six runs over the next two innings to go up by a score of 6-2.
But the Bulldogs successfully picked up their pitcher by coming right back and putting five on the board in the top of the sixth to regain the lead at 7-6. With two on and one out, senior right fielder Jordan Babbitt (Highland, CA) singled to center for an RBI. Another run scored on a sacrifice fly before junior shortstop Aaron Singh (Anaheim, CA) raked a triple over the center fielder's head to score Babbitt. Senior left fielder Nick Ono (Yorba Linda, CA) followed suit by roping a double to center for another run. Hall ended the great inning with an RBI-double down the left-field line.
After sophomore pitcher Austin Williams (Redlands, CA) replaced Minjarez on the mound in the middle of the sixth, the Comets managed to put up a run in each the next two frames to make it 8-7.
As a result of a single, a stolen base, and an error, Redlands quickly erased the deficit to equalize the score at 8-8 in the eighth.
First-year pitcher Justin Yang (Fountain Valley, CA) climbed the hill in the eighth and hoped to close the door on the game. Although Yang allowed baserunners, the Bulldogs' solid defense helped him escape unscathed.
Although sophomore designated hitter Andrew Renteria (Van Nuys, CA) recorded a double in the ninth, the Bulldogs were unable to muster enough offense to get him all the way around.
Yang returned to action even better with a three-up, three-down inning that included two strikeouts to send the game into extra innings.
Singh kept his hot streak alive by leading off the 10th with a double before moving over to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ono. Hall then successfully laid down the squeeze play that gave Singh just enough time to sneak in from third for the 9-8 advantage.
Once again, Yang did his part on the mound by striking out one and trusting his defense to make the necessary plays to preserve the 9-8 win.
Singh ended the day with an impressive 3-for-4 showing at the plate while also scoring three runs. Yang recorded the win in his first outing as a Bulldog.
Redlands (3-0) looks forward to taking on Concordia University (TX) on Sunday, February 11, at 9 a.m. PST to wrap up the Cactus Classic in Tucson, AZ.