SBCC baseball beats Oxnard College in clash of WSC titans

Catcher+Patrick+O%27Brien+%28No.+27%29+high-fives+pitcher+Kit+Larson+%28No.+18%29+after+getting+the+final+out+in+a+win+against+Oxnard+College+on+Tuesday%2C+March+18%2C+at+Pershing+Park+in+Santa+Barbara.+Larson+pitched+the+last+two+innings+of+the+game+en+route+to+a+4-2+Vaqueros+victory.

Matilda Öijer

Catcher Patrick O'Brien (No. 27) high-fives pitcher Kit Larson (No. 18) after getting the final out in a win against Oxnard College on Tuesday, March 18, at Pershing Park in Santa Barbara. Larson pitched the last two innings of the game en route to a 4-2 Vaqueros victory.

JAMESON SWAIN, Sports Editor

City College baseball moved back into a tie for first place in the Western State Conference North after a 4-2 victory over Oxnard College, Tuesday at Pershing Park.

The Vaqueros (16-5 overall, 5-2 conference) outlasted the Condors (15-4, 5-2) in a matchup of Southern California’s top teams.  City College entered the game ranked third and Oxnard ranked second in the latest California Community College Athletic Association poll.

City College starting pitcher Justin Bruce (No. 11) went toe-to-toe with the Condors’ ace Luke Eubank (No. 16) as the Vaqueros looked to reclaim the WSC’s top spot.  Eubank, who has committed to play at the University of Hawaii, entered the game with a 7-0 record and a 0.52 Earned Run Average.

“Our guys did a great job at just grinding him [Eubank] down and getting to their bullpen,” head coach Jeff Walker said.  “It was a good team win.”

The two pitchers breezed through the first two innings but the Vaqueros were able to push a run on the board in the bottom of the third inning when right fielder Noeh Martinez (No. 26) led off the inning with a single.

Martinez advanced to second base on an errant pick-off attempt by Eubank and later came around to score when Oxnard’s shortstop Ryan Webberley (No. 16) had trouble fielding a groundball hit by Matt Henderson (No. 6).

The Condors were able to tie the score in the top of the fourth inning when clean-up hitter Julian Ramon (No. 18) doubled down the left field line off Vaqueros’ third baseman Spencer Erdman’s (No. 5) glove.  An error by first baseman Trey Barrett (No. 44) allowed Ramon to come around to score and the game was tied, 1-1.

The Vaqueros got to Eubank in the bottom of the sixth inning after left fielder Connor McManigal (No. 24) led off the inning with a double into the right field corner.  McManigal scored on a sacrifice fly to center field off the bat of City College’s designated hitter Jimmy Brakka (No. 9).

“I felt like I’ve been seeing the ball decent the last few games, definitely better than the beginning of the season,” McManigal said.  “Hopefully it continues.”

A pinch-hit, lead-off double by Oxnard’s Jeremy Alvarado (No. 26) knocked Bruce from the game in the top of the seventh inning.  The Vaqueros’ bench greeted Bruce with high-fives as relief pitcher Cody Van Aken (No. 17) entered for the seventh straight game.

“I felt great today and finally got my change-up down,” Bruce said.  “I trust my bullpen 100 percent and they did what they do best.”

After a sacrifice bunt and a walk, Ryan Tinkham (No. 22) singled in Alvarado to tie the game again, 2-2.  Van Aken was able to get out of a bases loaded, one out pinch with consecutive pop-outs the ended the rally for the Condors.

Eubank was replaced in the bottom of the seventh inning by Patrick Herrera (No. 11) and the Vaqueros took advantage of the new pitcher.  Brett Sesma (No. 4) was hit by a pitch to start the inning and came around to score when Brandon Evans (No. 14) singled to right field.

Two consecutive singles by Henderson and McManigal brought Evans around to score and the Vaqueros went in to the top of the eighth inning, 4-2.

Kit Larson (No. 18) recorded his fourth save of the season for the Vaqueros as he didn’t allow a runner to reach base in the eighth or ninth inning.  The City College bench rushed to the mound after the final out was recorded to celebrate the big win.

“The score or the inning doesn’t dictate the way I pitch, or anyone on this staff pitches,” Larson said.  “Props to Justin Bruce who showed a lot of maturity and pitched his [butt] off.”

The teams will face each other again at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, at Oxnard College.