Mats Thump Lancers 12-1, Vaccaro’s MRI comes back negative


Eric Ting, Editor-In-Chief

Knowing that the team may be without ace and USC commit James Vaccaro (knee injury) for an extended period of time, sophomore starting pitcher Sam Liang knew he had to pick up the slack for Vaccaro and not allow the team to lose any momentum today against the Tennyson Lancers. “I had to show up and pick up my game, and show (head coach Vince) Dell what I could do,” Liang said.

Liang didn’t disappoint, throwing a perfect game through the four innings he pitched in a 12-1 beatdown of the Lancers. “The key was to limit his pitches,” head coach Vince Dell’Aquila said. “He only pitched 41 pitches. We were very economical with his pitches, we could have used him another inning but it’s early in the season.” Liang did not let a single opponent on base and recorded six strikeouts. “My fastball really worked, I was just trying to hit the spots,” Liang said.

And as for Vaccaro, the team received good news today as the MRI results on Vaccaro’s knee came back negative, revealing no damage to the ligaments, but rather inflammation in the area. “I was walking around today, I feel a lot better than I did two days ago,” Vaccaro said. “It is just joint soreness, and I plan to do my rehab here at Miramonte and be back soon.”

The team can breathe a huge sigh of relief, since he and team personnel feared the worst on the day of the injury. “When it happened, I heard a loud pop and thought I tore something,” said Vaccaro. No timetable has been given for his return, although more clarity will be provided when Vaccaro sees a doctor again on Monday. “Right now I’m very positive,” Vaccaro said.

Dell’Aquila is also relieved to hear there is no ligament damage in Vaccaro’s knee. “That means we are going to have our one back (Vaccaro), our two (junior Tim Tague) will be back once basketball ends, and our three (Liang) just pitched a perfect game through four innings today.” Dell’Aquila also acknowledged junior second baseman and reliever Will Knox, who pitched the final three innings against Tennyson as someone the Mats can count on moving forward.

The Mats first scored when senior lead-off man Eric Nyman stole third base and reached home after a botched throw to third. The Mats scored three runs in both the first inning and second inning, and then scored four in the third and two in the fourth to take a commanding 9-0 lead going into the fifth inning. The Lancers didn’t put a single man on base until the sixth inning.

Both Nyman and senior outfielder Garrett Johnson turned in strong performances for the Mats, with identical stats of 3-3 and two RBIs. Left fielder Daniel Huston also went 3-3. Making the case for more playing time was senior outfielder Blake Kaufmann, who was 2-2 with two RBIs of his own in relief of Johnson during the fifth and sixth innings.

Next week, the 2-0 Mats travel to American Canyon on Tuesday and will host San Marin on Thursday. With Liang surging and Vaccaro and Tague returning, the Mats are poised for a solid 2016 campaign.