Dakota Veltkamp | La Habra Journal

Posted on 19 March 2014 by La Habra Journal


Jake Rivera throws a pitch in Game 2 of the Heralds’ doubleheader against Whittier, Tuesday night at York Field. Rivera earned his second pitching win and the Heralds split the series with Whittier. Photo Courtesy of Ryan E. Rivera

by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian baseball team split a doubleheader with Whittier on Tuesday, falling 7-5 in the first game before taking a 4-2 win in the later contest at York Field in Whittier.

Twelve innings of good baseball was not enough for the Whittier Christian Heralds to take home a sweep. After surrendering five runs in the second inning of Game 1, the Heralds dominated the rest of the night out scoring Whittier 8-2.

“Sometimes a loss is a good wake-up call and sometimes it’s just good to lose,” said Brent Lavoie, Whittier Christian head coach. “Bottom line, you don’t like losing, it’s tough but the lessons that come with it, the response is what I’m more impressed with.”

Tied 2-2 midway through the second inning of the afternoon game, the Cardinals had the bases loaded. Chris Thompson induced a pop fly which would have gotten the Heralds out of the inning, but the ball landed between his glove and that of Dakota Veltkemp. One run scored on the play and set the stage for the Cardinals’ big inning.

Whittier (1-6-1) followed with a liner between centerfield and right which was bobbled. The following play was a hard grounder hit to second which was bobbled. After the dust cleared, the Heralds had dug themselves into a 7-2 hole.

“When it rains, it pours, but it’s got to be internal, guys got to pick each other up,” Lavoie said. “Here’s a part of the game that’s gonna happen, but you got to minimize the mistakes.”

Not discouraged, the Heralds changed their approach looking to chip away at the Cardinals’ lead.

“We came in here and just talked about a lot of ball game being left, and if we can just chip away and get one each inning we were going to be in good shape,” Lavoie said. “[That would] give us a shot to tie the game up or take the lead in the last inning.”

Logan Contreras came in and pitched four scoreless innings. After the pitching change, Dakota Veltkemp moved to right field, where he got to flash the leather making a diving catch in right field in the third inning.

“[Contreras] came in stopped the bleeding,” Lavoie said. “[He threw] first pitch strikes and that’s what we needed. He came out attacking hitters, I liked his composure and just filling up the strike zone, that was big for us.”

In the fifth inning, Mike Rafter tripled and scored on a single from younger brother Brian Rafter.

In the sixth inning, the Heralds had their biggest chance at a rally, with the bases loaded and no outs. Veltkemp got jammed on an inside pitch and rolled into a double play which cut down the run at home and left first base open. Still down four runs, Contreras struck out to end the inning.

The Heralds rallied again in the top of the seventh. Mike Rafter reached on an infield single. He eventually scored on a single from Joseph Cobian. The Heralds would push their last run across with a single by Trevor McGee to make the score 7-5.

“It would have been real easy to throw the towel in there, so I’m proud of the way the guys fought and battled,” Lavoie said.

In game two, the Heralds looked to ignore game one and even the series.

“Flush it, move on, that was Game 1,” Lavoie said. “We’ve got to be one-pitch warriors and be ready for that next pitch.”

Jake Rivera took the hill and went six strong innings and gave up two earned runs. With the strong performance, there is a good chance he will start the second game of Olympic League play.

Down a run in the third Veltkamp led off the inning with a bloop single over the shortstop. Mike and Brian Rafter both walked to load the bases with no outs. Logan Veloff grounded into a double play, but the ground ball still scored the tying run.

In the fifth inning Mike Rafter singled to center. He then moved over to second on a passed ball before heading to third base on a grounder. With two outs, Cooper Hughes was hit by a pitch and then stole second. With two runners in scoring position, Joseph Cobian singled to center scoring both Hughes and Rafter.

“You could tell there was a little more hop in their step in Game 2,” Lavoie said.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Jake Rivera (2-1) was in a jam with the bases loaded. Rivera walked in a run to narrow the Heralds’ lead by one. The next batter crushed a pitch to deep left-center field, but Logan Contreres ran it down to preserve the lead and escape the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Mike Rafter again led the inning off with an infield single. Brian Rafter sacrificed him over to second base and Veloff singled to score Rafter and bring home the final run for the Heralds.

Mike Rafter earned the save by pitching a scoreless seventh inning to preserve the 4-2 victory.

“The way they bounced back, It would have been real easy to throw their hats in and say hey today’s a bad day,” Lavoie said.

With the split against Whittier, the Heralds are 5-2 and begin league play on Friday at home against Village Christian. First pitch is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.

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