By Spencer Hirsch |Staff Writer|
Senior pitcher Cory Caruso and junior outfielder Matt Winn were instrumental in the Coyotes 6-3 victory at home on Feb. 11 over CSU Dominguez Hills.
Caruso notched his first win of the season, as he gave the Coyotes 7 1/3 strong innings, holding the visiting Toros to only three runs.
Caruso’s toughest inning came in the top of the seventh.
Trailing 5-2, the Toros were threatening with one out and runners on first and second.
Caruso had struggled momentarily with his control, as he hit the first batter and walked the third batter, throwing an uncharacteristic wild pitch in the inning as well.
This prompted a visit from Coyotes’ pitching coach, Kurt Stange.
The conference on the mound was just what the doctor ordered, as Caruso got the next two Toros out, finishing the inning strong with a strikeout.
Caruso said after the game that the basis of Stange’s message to him was to “bare down.”
Caruso felt that the keys to getting out of that tough inning were staying confident and making good pitches.
“My curveball was on today. That was my main pitch,” said Caruso.
Coyotes’ head coach, Don Parnell, was pleased with Caruso’s performance.
“He had good stuff and commanded the strike zone,” said Parnell. “Anybody on our staff can be successful with good command of the strike zone.”
The top of the seventh would have been more of a nail biter for Coyote fans, if it were not for Winn’s clutch, two-out RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to give the Coyotes a 5-2 lead.
On a 3-2 count, Winn laced a breaking ball into the right-center field gap to knock in two huge insurance runs, as junior second baseman Curtis Cassise and senior right-fielder Edwin Mendoza crossed home plate.
“[The opposing pitcher] hadn’t been locating his fastball. I had that in the back of my mind,” said Winn. “I was definitely looking to go the other way. He did me a favor by throwing it away. I just went with it.”
The Coyotes tacked on one more run in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Mendoza drove a double down the right-field line to bring Cassise home from the third.
Coyote relievers Jeff Terzo and Tony Guerra finished the job on the mound, as they combined for 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Caruso handed the ball over to Terzo in the top of the eighth, with one out and runners on second and third.
Terzo got the Coyotes out of the inning with minimal damage, as the final Toro run came home from third base later that inning on a sacrifice fly caught by Winn in left field.
Guerra was given the ball in the top of the ninth. He set the final two Toro hitters down in order, recording his first save of the season and helping the Coyotes improve to 3-2 overall.
With solid pitching and timely hitting, the Coyotes were able to grab the Toros by their horns and come away with a well-fought victory.