The SBCC baseball team battled back into its SoCal Regional Round 1 opener at Santa Ana on Friday, scoring two late runs to send it into extra innings. However, the Dons would score the only run of the 10th inning to take a 5-4 win.
The Vaqueros (23-18) will now need to win two games on Saturday to advance to the next round, while Santa Ana (30-10) needs just one.
All-WSC Honorable Mention Mark Hernandez extended his lead as the team’s hits leader with a perfect 3-for-3 day. He was the only player in the game with three hits and the only Vaquero to go for multiple hits.
Left fielder Caiden Matheny – another All-Conference Honorable Mention – made it six games in a row with a hit, providing the biggest of the day with a two-run homer to open the scoring in the second inning. That made him the only Vaquero in the last two years to hit four home runs in a season.
SBCC’s only other scoring play came in the form of a two-run double by center fielder Matty Fung. The All-WSC Second Teamer’s hit tied the game with two outs in the eighth inning to help extend the game.
The Vaqueros were outhit 7-6 as four SBCC pitchers saw the mound. Noah Bullard and Jake McBride went two innings each, giving up no runs.
After a hitless first inning, the Vaqueros got a leadoff walk from catcher Tyler Imbach in the second.
Immediately after that, Matheny homered to left center, making it a 2-0 game.
Hernandez added his first of three singles, but would be picked off at first before a strikeout against third baseman Ricardo Amavizca ended the top half of the inning.
Santa Ana responded quickly, thanks to two hits and two errors in the bottom of the second. The first run came on a balk. Two unearned runs followed via a Vaquero error and a sac fly RBI as the Dons took the lead.
Another error would come back to bite SBCC in the third, as Marc Schavone doubled the Dons’ lead with an unearned run on an RBI single through the left side from Brock Denbo. That was the only hit of the inning for Santa Ana.
After tallying one hit in the previous five innings, Santa Barbara’s offense found some much-needed success in the eighth. Hernandez singled up the middle to start things off, but would be caught stealing while Gavin Haimovitz fouled out.
Justin Deal reached first on a Don error. Gabe Baldavino singled to right field and both runners moved to second and third.
Then, Fung came up with another huge hit, doubling to right center to tie the game.
McBride entered to pitch for the eighth and ninth innings and got the job done, allowing just one runner to make it to first base before exiting the game.
Matheny earned a walk and Blaney was hit by a pitch in the top of the ninth, but SBCC’s offense wouldn’t advance any further the rest of the way.
After a strong defensive showing in the top half of the tenth inning, yet another unearned run would win the game for the Dons. Catcher Evan Leibl reached first on an outfield error and later scored with the bases loaded on a single through the left side by left fielder Ryann Stock.
Michael Jorgenson works in communications/media relations at Santa Barbara City College.