COSTA MESA — There was a revolving gate on the Vanguard University bullpen Tuesday, but the reasons behind the multitude of pitching changes had nothing to do with an inability to get outs.
None of the seven Vanguard pitchers struggled in the hosts' 8-1 nonconference baseball win over a beleaguered La Sierra University program.
Freshman Spencer Moran, who made his first collegiate start and only his third appearance of the season, went the first three innings to earn the victory. He struck out three, allowed two hits and had no walks to also pick up some confidence shaken by a ponderous 54.00 earned-run average he brought to the ballpark.
Junior Ruben Orozco and sophomore Terry Unruh both threw hitless innings while striking out two, and freshman Nik Klungreseter, as well as seniors Tucker Woods and J.R. Bromberg added scoreless innings as the Lions maintained the shutout through eight innings.
Junior closer Kevin Ponzo, operating well outside a save situation due to an 8-0 lead, allowed one unearned run in the ninth, when a hitter that reached on an infield error, later scored.
Vanguard Coach Ralph Grajeda said his plan was to get some mound work in for his hurlers, since it had been a week since the Lions last played a game.
The Lions also lashed 10 hits to improve to 17-15 and extend their winning streak to three against the Riverside-based school that fell to 3-26-1.
La Sierra, in fact, had just 11 available players for Tuesday's game, and its starting pitcher, senior Kenneth Curiel, also batted cleanup.
Still, Curiel, who fell to 2-9, nor two La Sierra relievers were overmatched by the Vanguard offense, which managed multiple hits in only three innings and scored two runs in the third and seventh innings.
Junior shortstop David Kiriakos was two for four with one run batted in, while junior third baseman Bryce Arroyo had three RBIs while managing only one hit.
Senior outfielder Brandon Young drove in two runs, while seldom-used senior Kyle Willett produced the hosts' lone extra-base hit with a pinch-double in the eighth. Willett is two for eight this season.
The Lions added potency by stealing a combined seven bases (two by Young), but were just three for 12 with runners in scoring position.
"It was very academic today," Grajeda said. "It was about our guys getting their jobs done and getting their work in."
Vanguard has much work to do to salvage one of six spots in the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament. It has 12 conference games scheduled from Friday to April 28 and can scarcely afford to lose any.
The Lions, 7-13 in GSAC play, are in eighth place in the nine-team conference. But they are only three games behind fourth-place Biola (10-10) and much closer in the loss column to fifth-place Westmont (10-13) and sixth-place Fresno Pacific (10-14).
Vanguard finishes the regular season with four games each against third-place The Master's, seventh-place San Diego Christian and Westmont.
"The top six teams from the GSAC all go [to the conference tournament], so we have an opportunity to do some things," Grajeda said. "It was a tough first half, there's no getting around it. But our next 12 games are gigantic."
Vanguard 8, La Sierra 1
SCORE BY INNINGS
LS 000 000 001 – 1 6 1
VU 012 110 21x – 8 10 1
Curiel, Rivas (6), Gardea (8) and Johnson; Moran, Orosco (4), Klungreseter (5), Woods (6), Unruh (7), Bromberg (8), Ponzo (9) and Collins. W – Moran, 1-0. L – Curiel, 2-9. 2B – Willett (VU). 3B – Mould (VU).