by Diego Perez-Torres
On Monday the Columbus Explorers played their annual "Be the Light" game against Westminster at the University of Miami's Mark Light Stadium. Every year this is a very important game for fans in the Columbus community as the game is organized by the Ari Arteaga Foundation.
The foundation's mission is to "provide scholarships for students who exemplify Ari’s unique light and characteristics, and who demonstrate financial need after exhausting all other funding resources, so that they may attend private high schools with an emphasis on a Christian education; provide financial support beyond high-school and into higher education, and provide assistance to these students (and their families) should they experience an unforeseen event or hardship". This game is also a very good way for the foundation to raise money.
From the start of the game, it was inevitable that this would turn into a pitcher's duel. Columbus pitched their ace, Gabriel Cruz, who has been putting up great numbers for the Explorers through this point in the season. Cruz has posted a 0.44 era with 32 strikeouts over 16 innings pitched. And on the opposing side, the Explorers faced true freshman Aaron Hernandez who is committed to Wake Forest University. Hernandez has put up impressive numbers this year posting a 2.10 era with 18 strikeouts over 16 2/3rds pitched.
The first three innings were just back-to-back dominance from both pitchers. But then Columbus first baseman Louis Miguel '23 didn't like seeing that zero on the scoreboard next to his team's name and decided to change that with a solo shot that put his team up 1-0 in the bottom of the 4th. But after 5 great innings of work from Cruz he would end up conceding his first earned run of the season on a base hit that would bring around senior Chris Carroll to score.
After that, Columbus seemed to have an opportunity at the bottom of the 7th but clutch pitching by Westminister in the form of Austin Wiegandt bailed Westminister out of the jam. With Cruz taken out of the game after seven very solid innings, Coach Weber would call on sophomore Matthew Rios, as this game would be going to extra innings. His night ended after only getting two outs in the eighth inning. Columbus would have one more opportunity in the bottom of the eighth to send their fans home happy but after a very unfortunate and questionable strike-three call, Westminister held on to win 3-1.
Many members of the baseball community were eager to see if Columbus would bounce back or add to their woes. The Explorers faced the Western Wildcats three days after the loss to Westminster. A technical battle, the game ended up going into extra innings. But the Explorers triumphed, highlighted by a walk-off two-run homer from first baseman Luis Miguel. Miguel has homered in back-to-back games and now leads the team in batting average.
Now that Columbus has shown that they can bounce back from a tough loss and still continue to play good baseball it is only a matter of time before people start paying attention to the boys in Westchester.