For the second straight game to open the season, the Santa Barbara City College baseball team fell behind 3-0 to Chaffey College.
And, for the second straight time, the Vaqueros (2-0) came away Saturday with the victory.
The Panthers (0-2) did most of their damage in the first two innings, opening the scoring with a two-run homer on the fourth at bat of the day. They added to their lead in the second with an unearned run.
The Vaqueros cut into the lead with a pair of RBI sacrifice flies. Nicholas Seyler got on the board in the third on a fly out to center field by left fielder Pearce Blaney.
The tide really started to turn in the bottom of the fifth. A Mark Hernandez sac fly to left brought home Max Porter, who led off the inning and was hit by a pitch, making it a one-run game.
After singling earlier in the inning, right fielder Caiden Matheny made his way to third on a stolen base. He would bring in the tying run on an RBI single through the left side by shortstop Gavin Haimovitz.
SBCC then took its first lead of the day off the bat of Carson Cahoy, who was subbed in to pinch hit with two outs on the board. Blaney picked up his first of two runs for the day to give his team a 4-3 advantage.
The rest of the game was a tightly contested battle. The Panthers tied it at 4-4 in the top of the sixth, and both sides leaned on their pitching staffs without giving up any runs.
Pitcher Andrew Guardino stepped to the mound at the top of the ninth and made quick work of the opposition, striking out all three batters.
The Panthers tossed five straight balls to begin the bottom of the ninth, putting Blaney on base. Then, the first baseman Hernandez hit a clutch single through the left side. Both players advanced on a Panther error, and Haimovitz was intentionally walked.
With the bases loaded, Andrew McKenna walked up for his second at bat of the game. He hit a ground ball to the Chaffey first baseman, who gathered himself before throwing home to catch Blaney. The throw was just a bit too high, and Blaney scored the winning walk-off run.
Guardino got the win, accounting for half of SBCC’s six strikeouts in the ninth inning alone. The Vaqueros improved to 2-0 for their third straight campaign.
Santa Barbara will be on the road for its next four games, traveling for a three-game series against Golden West starting on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
Michael Jorgenson works in communications/media relations at Santa Barbara City College.