Nic Cardinal struck out eight in his Bulldog debut, and freshman Ismael Hernandez drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning to lead the Allan Hancock College baseball team to a 2-1 win over visiting L.A Pierce Friday in both teams' season opener. It marked the fifth straight year the Bulldogs opened the season with a victory.
Cardinal, a sophomore right-handed pitcher, scattered three hits and one run over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out the side in the third inning and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning. Cardinal issued two walks and hit one batter.
Sophomore Phil Almanza struck out one and allowed one hit in 1 1/3 innings of relief, while freshman Jesse Gasca earned the save with a scoreless ninth inning. The Lompoc High School graduate struck out two and allowed two hits. The freshman recorded the final out by catching Mike Scolaro with a called third strike with two men on base.
The Bulldogs got on the board first with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore right fielder Dylan Maiden drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Chad Jones. Quinntin Perez, a St. Joseph High School graduate, doubled to drive in Maiden to give Hancock an early 1-0 lead.
It remained 1-0 until the fifth when Pierce catcher Bryce Vitt led off with a triple, the first hit of the game allowed by Cardinal. He later scored on a passed ball to tie it at 1-1.
Hancock scored the game-winning run in the sixth when Perez led off with a walk and moved to second on an error. After Josh Tonascia singled, Perez scored on a sacrifice fly caught in foul territory in right field off the bat of Hernandez, a Cabrillo High School graduate, to give Hancock the lead for good at 2-1.
Pierce finished with six hits, while the Bulldogs collected five hits. Hancock sophomore Daniel Curiel and Tonascia had two hits apiece, while Perez added the team's only extra-base hit.
The Bulldogs will host the Brahmas Saturday at 2 p.m. Hancock welcomes in Cabrillo for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday.