McLaren pitches more than 10 innings in Gene Taylor’s sweep of Pomona
Normally a relief pitcher, Roland McLaren isn’t used to piling up lots of innings.
But in a doubleheader Saturday at Canyon View Park, the pitcher for the Gene Taylor’s American Legion baseball team went the distance. McLaren pitched a total of 102⁄3 innings and was credited with both wins against Pomona. The team won the first game 11-7 and the second game 6-5 in nine innings.
“I thought my arm was going to go out there,” said McLaren, who credited most of the success to his defense. “Coach (Dave Jahnke) kept asking me how I was doing and I felt all right, so I just kept pitching, and actually stuck in there and did well.”
McLaren started his stint on the mound with one out in the top of the sixth inning and finished the game, allowing two runs. He then started and pitched all nine innings of the second game. McLaren finished with 14 strikeouts between the two games.
“All summer long, he’s been our guy that we go to in relief for an inning here or there and then we try starting him,” Jahnke said. “I told him, ‘Let’s run you out there and see how long you can go,’ and each inning he came back ‘I’m fine.’ “
In both games, Gene Taylor’s trailed in the middle innings but got timely hits at the end.
In the first game, the team fell behind 7-5 in the top of the sixth inning after McLaren gave up a double that scored two runners inherited from starter Casey Burns.
Taylor’s responded in the bottom of the inning with a six-run rally with two outs to take an 11-7 lead.
The rally came after Levi Kramer and Tyler Gastineau reached base early in the inning on walks. With two outs, Tim Gastineau, Drew Bridges and Hutten Veatch had three hits in a row, which scored four runs. Casey Burns then walked and singles by Owen Taylor and Kramer scored two more runs.
McLaren pitched a shutout seventh inning to finish the game.
In the second game, Taylor’s led 1-0 going into the fifth inning, but the Panthers took advantage of two errors and five singles to take a 5-1 lead.
Taylor’s narrowed the lead in the bottom of the inning with three runs, and then tied it in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Lebsock.
In the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, McLaren allowed only one hit and two runners to reach base, but neither reached scoring position.
Offensively, Taylor’s tried to play small ball and had success getting runners into scoring position with sacrifice bunts. The problem was the team couldn’t get the timely hit to end the game.
It wasn’t until the ninth inning Taylor’s won it on a walk-off double by Bridges.
The hit looked like a routine fly ball to left field, but as it was coming down, Kadeem Ahman gestured indicating he had lost the ball, which dropped and allowed Gastineau to score.
“I thought it was just a routine fly ball but apparently it got caught it in the sun or something,” Bridges said.
Jahnke was somewhat amused by the ending but said he knew a big hit was coming.
“We had all kinds of opportunities to win in the last three innings there and couldn’t do it, couldn’t execute, couldn’t get the next guy to get a hit and it’s funny we catch a little break and Drew hits the ball sky high into left field there and scored a guy,” Jahnke said.