The only thing Chaffey College starting pitcher Elias Jauregui had issues controlling Friday afternoon was his ball cap.
The sophomore pitched seven strong, issued just one walk and struck out seven in the Panthers 1-0 win over the Vaqueros at Pershing Park.
As he entered the late innings, Jauregui lost his hat on multiple occasions as he released the ball towards home plate. While he couldn’t seem to find the remedy to keep his hat from flying off, his repertoire of pitches more than made up for it. He allowed just four hits all afternoon, while the Vaqueros (9-6) stranded 10 base runners on a day where scoring was at a premium.
The outing by the Pomona native spoiled what was a terrific performance by SBCC’s Blake Corsentino, who tossed 7.2 innings and struck out five. Corsentino also allowed just four hits on the day, though a third inning solo shot by Chaffey’s Sergio Ramirez proved to be the difference.
“I had a good feel for my changeup and breaking ball,” Corsentino said after the game. “Fastball out of the zone was working pretty well for me. I just planned to attack them. We knew that they were swingers, so I tried to throw fastballs and get them to hit into weak contact.”
For the most part, his plan worked to perfection. On a hot, sunny afternoon and his team donning all-black uniforms, Corsentino worked quickly and was the aggressor throughout his start. He faced 27 batters and threw just 94 pitches as he worked into the eighth. The most pitches he threw in a single inning was 20, which occurred in the top of the third when he allowed the game’s only run.
“Against a team that’s super aggressive, it’s good to move quick,” he said. “I’ve always pitched with a pretty quick tempo, but today I wanted to speed it up, speed the game up and try to keep them off-balance as much as I could.”
Rodriguez was able to square up a 3-1 offering from the Vaqueros right-hander, crushing the ball over the left-field fence.
“It was just a fastball over the middle of the plate, belt high,” Corsentino said. “He just got all of it.”
Though it didn’t appear to be a clutch situation at the time, Rodriguez is no stranger to the big moment. Friday’s dinger was his second of the year, with his first coming in the bottom of the eighth on Feb. 18, which helped the Panthers (10-6-1) draw even with Fullerton in a game that ended in a 5-5 tie. The game was called in the 10th due to darkness.
“I was just looking to hit the ball hard and give my pitcher some run support,” Rodriguez said. “It felt effortless. Full barrel on it. It felt easy.”
The Vaqueros threatened to score in the early going. Ryan Guardino, a San Marcos High alum, led off the bottom of the first with a triple to right center field. Kyle Froemke followed with a slow roller to third, which was fielded cleanly by Chaffey’s Jairemy Pulido who fired it to Bradley Chesterton at the plate for the force out.
“The middle (of the infield) was playing back and (Froemke) hooks a ground ball to the third basemen and we compound it with a baserunning mistake,” SBCC coach Jeff Walker said after the game. “It kind of changed (the game) because their guy, last year we kind of let him off the ropes. He pitched against us last year and kind of had a similar first inning and (getting out of the jam) gave him some confidence that he could build on the rest of the game.”
Last season, Jauregui chased after 0.2 of work, allowing two hits and five runs (two earned) in a 6-2 win by the Vaqueros.
In the bottom of the fourth, SBCC had runners on second and third with two outs before Jauregui struck out Trevor Davis to end the threat. The Vaqueros would threaten again in the bottom of the fifth. With runners on first and second and two away, Jauregui got Jacob Bravo to bounce out to second to leave two more runners stranded.
With two outs in the latter half of the seventh, Jauregui got Noah Williamson to fly out to leftfield on a pitch that registered 90 mph on the radar gun behind home plate. That would be his final pitch of the afternoon.
“At that point it was just more adrenaline,” Jauregui said. “I was deep in the game and I didn’t really have time to think about being tired.”
Corsentino allowed a pair of singles in the top of the eighth and was replaced by Colby Downard, who needed just one pitch to escape the two-out, two-on jam.
Chaffey’s Tyler Tilton came on in relief and walked Guardino to lead off the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Bravo was plunked for the second time on the day and the Vaqueros appeared to be in business. Tilton was able to settle in and got a pair of fly outs to end the eighth.
Tilton issued a pair of walks in the bottom of the ninth but was able to get Guardino to line out to second base to end the game.
Guardino went 1-4 at the dish and has now hit safely in all 13 games he has appeared in this season. He also stole second base in the fifth and is now 13-for-14 on stolen-base attempts.
“He’s got some big-league tools. He can run and he’s got some arm strength,” Walker said of Guardino. “He’s shown up every game, it’s just the other guys, unfortunately, have been hit or miss.”
Friday’s loss was the second time this season SBCC has dropped a 1-0 contest at home.
”Those games are swing games that come with small detailed things,” Walker said. “Baserunning mistakes early in the game, potential for big innings that we run out of. But hopefully we can learn from that and move on.”
The two teams will meet again, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. at Pershing Park.