SBCC baseball capitalizes on Cuesta’s miscues for win

Tyler+Gilbert+%28No.+12%29+pitches+Thursday%2C+March+13%2C+at+Pershing+Park.+RJ+Hassey+%28No.+23%29+from+Cuesta+College+takes+his+lead%3B+meanwhile%2C+first+baseman%2C+Trey+Barrett+%28No.+44%29+prepares+for+the+pitch.

Catalina Avila

Tyler Gilbert (No. 12) pitches Thursday, March 13, at Pershing Park. RJ Hassey (No. 23) from Cuesta College takes his lead; meanwhile, first baseman, Trey Barrett (No. 44) prepares for the pitch.

JAMESON SWAIN, Sports Editor

City College baseball tied for the top of its division after beating Cuesta College, 7-4, on a beautiful day at Pershing Park Thursday.

The Vaqueros (15-4 overall, 4-1 conference) got off to a quick start against the defending Western State Conference North champion Cuesta Cougars (4-14, 0-5) in a three-and-a-half hour, error-riddled contest.

The Vaqueros, who are ranked third in Southern California, moved into a tie with Oxnard and Hancock atop the WSC standings with their win on Thursday.

The two teams combined to walk 15 batters on a day where the strike zone was very elusive for all pitchers who took to the mound.

“It wasn’t pretty and wasn’t our best effort of the season by any stretch but they made more mistakes than we did and we took advantage,” head coach Jeff Walker said.

City College, after being shutout Tuesday at Hancock, got on the board early when Jimmy Hill (No. 16) singled in Matt Henderson (No. 6) in the bottom of the first inning.  Hill would come around to score later in the inning on a wild pitch by the Cougars’ starting pitcher Jackson Gentes (No. 29).

Vaqueros starting pitcher Tyler Gilbert got off to a strong start, striking out four of the first Cougar batters.  Gilbert allowed a double and a walk in the top of the second but a lineout to left fielder Connor McManigal (No. 24) killed the rally for Cuesta.

Gilbert pitched four innings, striking out eight but was relieved by Cody Van Aken (No. 17) when his pitch count got too high.  The Cougars couldn’t get any offense going off the side-arm delivery of Van Aken and the Vaqueros went into the bottom of the fourth inning still up 2-0.

Trey Barrett (No. 44) led off the inning with a line drive single to center field and later came around to score on another wild pitch by Gentes.

The Vaqueros put three runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth, capitalizing on more miscues by the Cougars defense.  Two throwing errors by Cuesta’s catcher RJ Hassey allowed Henderson and McManigal to score.  McManigal had a timely single earlier in the inning that plated Hill from third base.

“We were really opportunistic in taking advantage of where they had their downfalls today,” Hill said.

Lucan Benenati (No. 20) came on in relief of Van Aken in the top of the seventh inning with the Vaqueros ahead, 7-1.  The Cougars were finally able to get some offense going and scored two runs on hits by Josh Falco and David Belt.   Another run came across for the Cougars in the top of the eighth inning on a single by Steven Pico, bringing the score to 7-4.

Vaqueros pitcher Kit Larson (No. 18) came on in the top of the ninth inning and promptly shut out the Cougars en route to earning his third save of the season.

“It’s a mixture of being pumped yet staying calm,” Larson said about coming in to close out the game.  “You can’t get ahead of yourself and can’t pay attention to the scoreboard when you’re playing.”

The two teams will face-off again at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 15, at Cuesta College.