SBCC baseball takes game one of So Cal Regional Playoffs

Right+fielder+Noeh+Martinez+%28No.+26%29+pops+up+a+bunt+in+the+seventh+inning+against+San+Bernardino+Valley+College+on+May+2%2C+at+Pershing+Park.+Martinez+reached+first+base+and+the+Vaqueros+went+on+to+score+five+in+the+inning+en+route+to+at+9-3+victory+in+the+first+game+of+the+best-of-three+playoff+series.

Aasa Haleby

Right fielder Noeh Martinez (No. 26) pops up a bunt in the seventh inning against San Bernardino Valley College on May 2, at Pershing Park. Martinez reached first base and the Vaqueros went on to score five in the inning en route to at 9-3 victory in the first game of the best-of-three playoff series.

JAMESON SWAIN, Sports Editor

City College baseball took the first game of the best-of-three playoff series against San Bernardino Valley College, 9-3, Friday at Pershing Park.

Freshman pitcher Justin Bruce (No. 11) pitched seven solid innings, striking out seven batters en route to earning his sixth victory of the season. The first team All-Western State Conference North selection allowed three runs to score.

“My fastball command helped me for a majority of the game,” Bruce said. “My off-speed (pitches) in the beginning were good but it switched and kind of just shut off.”

The Vaqueros (24-13) ranked sixth in the Southern California Regional playoffs put the game out of reach in the bottom of the seventh, capitalizing on three errors by the Wolverines.

“Our goal for every game is to hold them scoreless until we score and Justin Bruce did that,” head coach Jeff Walker said.

The Wolverines (26-11) earned the eleventh seed in the playoffs and were co-conference champions of the Foothill Conference with Rio Hondo College.

Freshman relief pitcher and first team All-WSC Kit Larson (No. 18) pitched the final two innings for the Vaqueros, only allowing one runner to reach base.

Catcher Patrick O’Brien (No. 27) led the offense for the Vaqueros, going three-for-three at the plate with a walk, two runs batted in, and scored twice. He also threw a would-be base stealer out in the first.

The Vaqueros put two runs on the board in the bottom of the first on run scoring singles by Connor McManigal (No. 24) and O’Brien.

“Coach Walker is always talking about getting that first run across,” O’Brien said.

Brandon Evans (No. 14) reached base three times from the top of the lineup and scored twice.

Noeh Martinez (No. 26) had two key sacrifice hits and reached base on a bunt single in the seventh

San Bernardino Valley’s Jason Wilcoxson (No. 9) brought the Wolverines within one run in the top of the seventh with a double down the left field line, just inside third base. He limped off the field with an apparent leg injury and was replaced by a pinch runner at second.

Left fielder AJ David (No. 28), California’s second leading RBI producer with 42, came to the plate with the tying run on second. He flied out to left field but the coaches of San Bernardino Valley argued that David’s bat hit O’Brien’s glove before contact.

In that case, David should have been allowed first base because of catcher’s interference but the coaches’ pleas to the umpire weren’t answered and the Vaqueros were out of the inning.

The big hit in the bottom of the seventh inning for the Vaqueros came off of the bat of first baseman Jimmy Brakka (No. 9). On the first pitch he saw from relief pitcher Angus Miller (No. 20) he hit a soft line drive up the middle scoring Spencer Erdman (No. 5) from third. Two bad throws on the play allowed two more runs to score and the Vaqueros led, 9-4.

Larson came in and shut out the Wolverines the final two innings, allowing only one runner to reach base and that was on an error.

“Obviously you like to go to bed tonight up 1-0 rather than having to chase two on a Saturday,” Walker said.

The Vaqueros and Wolverines will be back on the field tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. where sophomore Tyler Gilbert (No. 12) is slated to start on the mound. Game two tomorrow, if necessary, will be at 3 p.m. at Pershing Park.

“Tomorrow we have to take it one pitch at a time and come out like we did today—ready to play,” O’Brien said.

With one more victory, City College will play the winner of Long Beach City College and Santa Ana College.

Santa Ana took the first game, 17-6.