Kevin Contreras, Assistant Sports Editor
The 2021 regular season ended this past weekend for the UCR baseball team. They ended this year’s chapter by playing against a familiar team and rival, California Baptist University, in the Crosstown Showdown. The final game of the four-game series took place in the Riverside Sports Complex under the Inland Empire sun.
After two back-to-back defeats, the Highlanders hoped to ride the momentum they had generated in Game 3, which they won 12-6.
After two quiet innings, the Lancers managed to break away with three runs, as they put themselves on the board, 3-0. Sophomore outfielder Damon Keith, senior infielder Nick Plaia and sophomore outfielder Chad Castillo were the ones who reached home on behalf of CBU.
The Highlanders were eager to put themselves on the board going into the fourth inning. Freshman infielder Anthony Mata singled toward shortstop. Following Mata came redshirt sophomore and catcher Jacob Shanks, who was hit by the pitch and resulted in a walk toward first, allowing Mata to advance towards second. Next came redshirt junior Cole Pofek, who also singled the ball long enough for Mata to run past third base and toward home to put UCR on the board 3-1. Shanks stood comfortably on second base, and redshirt junior and catcher Ethan Payne came a couple batters later, and he ended up walking toward first. This allowed Pofek to advance toward second and Shanks toward third. Finally, redshirt senior and outfielder Travis Bohall followed to bring Shanks and Pofek home with a single toward center field. The game now tied 3-3.
Both teams were eager to get ahead of their opponent as they headed into the fifth inning. This resulted in both teams making runs. For the Lancers, junior catcher Russell Stevenson touched home plate, putting them up temporarily. Opening up the bottom of the fifth inning was redshirt outfielder redshirt junior outfielder Dylan Orick. After waiting patiently for two pitches, he was able to find the ball but in the form of fouls. After being at bat for quite some time, he hit the ball high and out of the park resulting in an out of the park home run, leaving the game tied again at 4-4.
After five very tight innings, the Lancers were able to break away and form a lead. Scoring two runs in the sixth and a fifth run in the seventh, a total of seven runs in two innings resulted in an 11-4 lead for CBU. The Highlanders did their best to comeback in the eighth inning. Shanks was at the plate one more time, once again walking toward first. Pofek followed with a double toward right field and managed to advance to third while the Lancers tried to stop Shanks from scoring, but to no avail. Payne came to bring Pofek home with a grounder toward second base. These two runs left the score 11-6.
The Highlanders tried to bridge the gap but were unable to as the Lancers added three more runs to the board in the ninth inning. The game ended with UCR down 14-6 in their final game of the season. The UCR baseball team ended their year with a record of 15-36.