Howell, Rehage go yard for SBCC

SBCC broke open a 1-1 tie with three runs in the fifth inning on a windy Tuesday at Pershing Park and Ryan Gardner turned in a sharp pitching performance in an 8-3 baseball win over Porterville.

Daniel Howell and Conner Rehage belted solo homers for the Vaqueros, who improved to 14-9 with their seventh win in eight games. They’re 14-0 when scoring seven or more runs.

Gardner went 6 2/3 innings, holding the Pirates to three runs (two earned) on seven hits with nine strikeouts and one walk in the opener of the Channel Coast Tournament. It was just the second start of the year for Gardner, who’s normally a middle reliever.

Shortstop Sam Johnson lunges to make a catch of an infield fly in front of second baseman Chris Lauritzen, left, and first baseman Conner Rehage in the top of the 8th to preserve a 5-3 lead.

Ryan Gardner started for the Vaqueros, earning the victory by pitching 6 2/3 innings.

(Photos by Vince Agapito)

“We played well as a team,” said Gardner. “My fastball and splitter were working all day. I was trying to get ground balls and have the defense work for me.”

Reliever D.J. Gunderson got out of a two-out, two-on jam in the seventh with a strikeout. The sidearmer pitched the last 2 1/3 innings to pick up his second save.

Howell hit his seventh homer in the second and Rehage drove in two runs with a double in the fifth and a solo homer leading off the eighth. Rehage is batting .378 with nine homers, which ties him for the team and WSC lead with teammate Abe Ruiz.

“To hit two home runs on a day like today is almost unheard of in this park and Conner’s homer just snuck out,” said coach Teddy Warrecker. “Danny Howell took a year off (as a redshirt) and almost missed the entire fall due to injury. It was a struggle at the beginning of the season but I thought he was a championship-level player and he’s starting to play like one.

“In the fifth inning, we had three two-out, two-strike RBIs and those were big.”

SBCC's Daniel Howell launched his seventh home run of the season on Tuesday.

Ruiz, Tommy White and Rehage drove in the runs in the fifth, boosting the lead to 4-1. Porterville pulled within 4-3 on Tommy Acevedo’s RBI double in the seventh. The Vaqueros scored a run in the seventh when Chris Lauritzen doubled, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and alertly stole home after the catcher dropped a third strike and threw to first.

SBCC added three runs in the eighth on Rehage’s homer, a double-play groundout by Tyler Lyons and a wild pitch that brought in Steven Keller.

“Our pitching has been outstanding lately,” noted Warrecker, whose team is 8-3 at home. “Ryan, in only his second start of the year, goes over 100 pitches. He really competed in the strike zone. And D.J. Gunderson is as reliable a reliever as I’ve had in 10 years. He’s been unbelievable this year.”

The Vaqueros will host L.A. Valley on Wednesday in the round-robin tourney. On Thursday, they’ll travel to Ventura College for a 10 a.m. game against L.A. Mission.


Porterville ……. 001 001 100 — 3 6 2
SBCC …………… 010 030 13x — 8 8 2
Hebert, Duran (6), Lemke (8) and Rogers; Gardner, Gunderson (7) and White, Keller (8). W–Gardner 2-2. L–Hebert. S–Gunderson 2.
2B–P: Hebert, Acevedo. SB: Rehage, Lauritzen, Keller. HR–SB: Howell (7), 2nd inn., none on; Rehage (9), 8th inn., none on.
Records–PC 2-19. SBCC 14-9.