PASADENA — For roughly the first half of its Pacific League opener, the Glendale High baseball team played like the team it's striving to become.
But for the last half, the Nitros spiraled into the team they're trying to get away from, rife with defensive miscues, bad pitch selection at the plate and, inevitably, allowing an eight-run inning that sealed a 10-0 five-inning loss to host Pasadena High on Tuesday afternoon.
"It almost seemed like they freaked out and we didn't know how to respond," said second-year Glendale Coach Jesus Osuna, whose team dropped to 2-2 on the season.
An eight-run fourth by Pasadena (7-3, 1-0 in league) ultimately decided Glendale's doom, but the game truly turned in the bottom of the third.
With Glendale starter Daniel Aragon having cruised through a pair of no-hit innings to start, the left-hander struck out the first batter of the third before the Nitros committed consecutive errors on routine ground balls. A Pasadena bunt single followed, though had the ball been handled better, it likely should have gone for a routine sacrifice. With the bases loaded, Pasadena went up, 1-0, on a grounder to third that skipped off the catcher's glove for another error.
A second unearned run scored on a subsequent sacrifice fly before the final out was recorded on a grounder to second that was bobbled, as well.
"What [more] do you ask your pitcher?" Osuna said. "He [did] his job."
Offensively, Glendale's Paul Zetina notched his team's first hit, lining a single to opposite-field right to lead off the third, but after taking second on a sacrifice was stranded. It began a span in which Bulldogs starter Ives Brown retired nine in a row, stopped only by an infield single from Zetina in the fifth.
Emblematic of the team's offensive woes and how quickly the game had turned came in the top of the fourth, as Glendale responded to Pasadena's two-run burst with a 1-2-3 inning that saw the first batter foul out on the first pitch, the second strike out on three pitches and the third strike out on four.
Brown went five innings, tossing an abbreviated shutout with two hits, one walk and seven strikeouts.
Aragon induced a popout to start the fourth before hitting a batter. He then got what looked to be a double-play ball to second, but it was bobbled and the Nitros recorded just one out on the play. Thereafter, Pasadena exploded for eight straight hits. The first five were singles, including two bloopers. The last single was a line drive off Aragon.
He stayed in only to give up a grand slam to Andrew Phillips that put the score at 9-0.
The performance was a far cry from a squad that, at least in its first three games, had Osuna believing it was headed in the right direction, having squared up fundamentals that had plagued past seasons' Nitros.
"I've never seen that from them. We're not that team," Osuna said. "[Today] we're gonna get right back to it. I hope that's a learning lesson for them cause we're not where we should be."