New year, same old Moore League.
Millikan and Wilson met at Blair Field for an earlier-than-usual league opener on Monday evening, a rescheduled game due to Spring Break tournament conflicts. Both teams made uncharacteristic errors but, as has been the case at Blair for decade, the Moore League game turned into a thriller. The Rams trailed after five innings but scored three in the sixth to eke out a 4-3 victory.
“Usually everyone’s got five or six more games under their belts before getting to Blair,” said Millikan coach Ron Keester. “1-0 is very nice and now we’ve got a couple of weeks to get better before we’re back here again.”
Millikan struck first as center fielder Moises Guzman opened up the league season with a leadoff triple. Two batters later he was sacrificed home, giving starting pitcher Kelly Hawkshaw a 1-0 lead.
Hawkshaw’s first pitch hit Alex Seguine, but after the Bruins loaded the bases with no outs, the Rams induced a force at home and then Hawkshaw struck out two batters to get out of the inning.
The Bruins struck in the bottom of the second as Nolan Ornelas led off with a single and Nick Mores drew a walk. After Jack Odell moved the runners over, a hard-hit ball by Seguine squeaked past Hawkshaw and scored Ornelas to tie the game. Kyle Clothier smacked a single into center to score Jacob Leroux, running for Mores, putting Wilson in the lead, 2-1.
Millikan settled in behind Hawkshaw after that, and Wilson stepped up behind starter Ryan Pettway.
In the sixth Millikan’s Nico Briones was hit by a pitch and then moved over on a wild pitch by Dean Kefalas. Cody Bey’s hit to left field scored Briones, who came sprinting around from second. The throw from the outfield drew Mores, the Wilson catcher, behind the plate. Briones and More dove at the plate at the same time, and the ump said Briones just barely got under the tag.
Michael Barrientos’ single through the right side scored Bey and put Millikan in the lead. Guzman then doubled in pinch runner Andy Abdelnour to put Millikan up 4-2.
Guzman, a junior, was a spark for the Rams with a double and a triple on opening day.
“He’s a guy where when he’s playing well, we’re playing really well,” said Keester.
Asked what he was thinking after hitting the leadoff triple, Guzman smiled and shook his head.
“I was just happy,” he said. “Just in the moment. I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of my team.”
Guzman’s RBI ended up being the difference as Wilson got a run back when Ryan Guerero’s sac fly scored Seguine to make it 4-3. Rams reliever sophomore Tyler Conant walked a batter to put the tying run on with two outs, but got a strikeout to end the game.
Wilson (3-4, 0-1) will face Jordan at the MLB Academy on Wednesday afternoon while Millikan (5-3, 1-0) will visit Trabuco Hills on Thursday.
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