Thousand Oaks, Calif. — The Orange County Riptide (4-2-1) allowed six unanswered runs after climbing to a 3-1 lead, losing to the Conejo Oaks (4-1) 7-3.
The loss puts the Riptide to 0-2 on the road, a stark contrast to their undefeated 4-0-1 record at home.
“We have to learn to deal with the adversity that comes with being on the road,” Riptide head coach Tim Brown said. “We play fairly well at home, we play more relaxed at home. (The team) goes on the road and there’s adversity, it comes from a number of different places and we’ve got to do a better job of managing (adversity).”
Brown noted errors and batting as key points for the Riptide’s struggles against the Oaks.
“We’ve had (consecutive) games with three errors, that’s just too many. We’ve got to clean up the defense a little bit,” Brown said. “Hopefully, we’ll start hitting pretty quick. The margin for error is really small when you only get three hits.”
The Riptide’s first two runs came in the bottom of the fifth thanks to Oaks’ wild pitches. Nathan Manning (California) and Santino Panaro (UNLV) crossed home plate to add to their season run totals to four and two, respectively.
Manning continued to spark the Riptide’s offense as he hit an RBI single in the following inning.
Pitcher Evan Vasiliou (UC Irvine) moved out of his usual relief role to start for the Riptide. Brown’s decision to start Vasiliou paid off as one unearned run crossed during the Anteater’s outing. In his first start of the season, the southpaw finished with five innings pitched, zero earned runs and five strikeouts.
“(Vasiliou’s) start was outstanding. He threw strikes and that’s what happens when you throw strikes, you get five innings like that,” Brown said.
From there, the Riptide’s pitching staff struggled as six runs came across the subsequent four innings following Vasiliou’s start, four of which came in the 6th inning.
The Riptide look to rebound from the loss this Friday against the Arroyo Seco Saints on the road with first pitch at 6:05 p.m. pacific time.