What is it like to face the first-place team in your conference, allow only four hits, strike out 14 batters--and lose?
“It’s tough,” Fred Riscen said. “It’s been like this pretty much all year.”
Riscen, a pitcher at Pierce College, is regarded as one of the finest left-handers in the state among junior college pitchers. Some, including Long Beach Coach Ken Gaylord and Pierce Coach Tim Collins, think he is the best.
The Montreal Expos, who drafted Riscen in December, have similar feelings. In his last 18 innings, Riscen has 28 strikeouts.
Praise and strikeouts alone don’t win ballgames, however. Without an offense behind him, Riscen lost, 1-0, Tuesday to Long Beach at home.
The defeat drops Pierce to 8-8 in the Metropolitan Conference and 11-11 overall. And all the praise hasn’t helped Riscen post a record any better than 6-5.
“It’s really tough, but then again we’re in a tough league,” said Riscen, the former City Player of the Year from Granada Hills High. “Hopefully, the protest will go through.”
Oh yes, the protest. In the bottom of the eighth inning and Pierce trailing, Collins went to umpire Rudy Ramirez with what looked to be a lineup change. Collins had wanted to pinch-hit for Joe Reda. Collins said that after he double-checked his situation--none out and a man on second--he told Ramirez to “forget it.”
Reda went to the plate and bunted Ross Hersh to third. Gaylord went to Ramirez and complained that Pierce sent an illegal batter to the plate. The umpire sent Reda to the dugout and Hersh back to second. Collins then informed Ramirez that Pierce was continuing the game under protest.
“I’m still amazed, sort of in shock,” Collins said. “I wanted to put a hitter in for Reda, but after viewing it and seeing that Mike Rosenberg wouldn’t be able to bat, we didn’t want to do it. I told Ramirez to forget it.”
Ramirez didn’t budge and accepted the protest. Mark Bowen sacrificed Hersh to third and Jon Tanis flied out.
“Hersh could have been the tying run,” Collins said.
Eight other stranded Pierce baserunners could have been the tying run. But Pierce isn’t an offensive power, it is a fundamental, execution-type team, Collins said. Pierce bunted nine times trying to get a run home.
Long Beach, which averages close to eight runs a game, scored in the seventh inning on a single by Darren Tekely that sent home Frank Meza, who had doubled.
With the win, Long Beach (10-5, 15-12 overall) remains in first place. Long Beach had shared the conference’s top spot with El Camino prior to Tuesday, but El Camino lost to Pasadena, 13-12.