Rams Late Two-Run Rally Clinches Final Home Game

Matt Ko pitched nine innings, giving up only two-earned runs.
Matt Ko pitched nine innings, giving up only two-earned runs. MICHAEL P. SMITH / GUARDSMAN

Sophomore pitcher Matt Ko pitched his final game for City College baseball in stellar fashion, allowing only two earned runs in nine innings as the Rams defeated Canada College 6-4 at Sunberg field in Balboa park on April 29.

“I knew this was my last game for City and I had to go balls out,” Ko said.

By the top of the third inning, Ko (5-5, 4.65) established control of his fastball and curveball, foiling Canada batters into groundouts and flyouts while holding the Canada Colts to four scoreless innings in his third complete game this spring.

Right fielder Matt Armstrong gave the Rams the early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning with a sacrifice groundout that allowed third baseman Nicholas Fabian to score from third after Fabian stole second base on a first-pitch strike and advanced to third base on a 2-2 wild pitch.

With third baseman Andrew Ontai (.296) advancing to second base on another wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning, sophomore catcher Galen Volpondesta smashed a high fastball into the left-center gap for a one-out RBI double that gave the Rams a two run advantage. Volpondesta went 3-4 with three RBIs in his last game at Balboa Park.

“The pitcher kept trying to throw fastballs inside on me,” Volpondesta said. “I was seeing the ball really good and making adjustments. We have not beaten Canada all last year and this year, so it was good to get this monkey off our back.

”With a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning, Ko’s arm appeared to be tiring after he walked the first two Canada batters. After a sacrifice fly put Canada on the board and with runners on second and third base, Ko left a slider across the plate. The pitch was driven hard to the deep left-field alley. The runners scored, and the three-run lead was lost.

Canada (24-12-1, 12-10) tied the game in the seventh inning, as Ko showed clear signs of fatigue. A one-out RBI single tied the game 4-4 and left runners on second and third base with one out. Second baseman Ryan Silver made a fully extended 10-foot leap to snag a clothesline shot that seemed headed for the right-center alley and tagged out the second base runner for an impressive double play to end the inning.

“It was his last game of his career here,” coach John Vanoncini said of Ko, “and I wanted to give him a shot at his third complete game of the season. I knew he could handle the pressure with runners on base. I knew he could finish strong in the last innings.