Vaqueros come up one hit short

SBCC’s season ends with 5-3 loss in Super Regional

SBCC trailed 4-0 before coming to bat on Saturday in a Super Regional baseball elimination game and never caught up in a 5-3 loss to Cerritos at Fullerton College.

The Vaqueros (24-17) were held to five hits by Christian Rodriguez (8.1 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits) and Cesar Chavez. SBCC, playing in its first four-team Super Regional, was eliminated with its second straight defeat. On Friday, Orange Coast overcame an 8-4 deficit in the ninth and edged the Vaqueros 9-8 in 10 innings.

On Saturday, the WSC North champions hoped for a similar comeback when they came to bat trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Garrett Trevino walked and Robert Vickers singled to right with two outs. Pinch-hitter Zach Pecyna got on when the third baseman threw wildly past first, allowing Trevino to score and cut the deficit to 5-3. Joey Epperson walked to load the bases against Chavez, who relieved Rodriguez with one out in the inning.

The Vaqueros had a chance to tie it with a single but the rally ended when Eli Michaels popped out to third, ending the game.

Epperson, a freshman first baseman from Lafayette, Calif., went 2-3 and hit his first homer of the year — a solo blast to left-center with two outs in the fifth that cut the deficit to 5-2. Epperson, who finished the year batting .310, also drew a pair of walks and reached base four times.

SBCC hit the ball hard a number of times — including five deep flyouts that came close to the ivy-covered outfield fence — but couldn’t locate the holes in the defense.

“We hit it hard all day but we kept finding their players,“ said Epperson. “We couldn’t catch a break the last couple of days. Things didn’t go our way but we never let up.

“The best thing about this group is we found ourselves about six weeks ago. We knew what we wanted and we achieved most of our goals. This was a special team.”

After a rocky first inning (four runs on three hits and three walks), sophomore left-hander Chris Joyce settled down, holding the Falcons (24-15) to one run on four hits over the next seven frames. Joyce (7-1) pitched eight innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits with seven strikeouts, four walks and one hit batter.

Left fielder Bubby Rossman went 3-4 with three RBIs to lead Cerritos, the champions of the South Coast Conference. It was the first meeting between the teams since 1973.

SBCC got a run in the first on walks to Cody Giordano and Epperson, followed by a fielder’s choice that scored Giordano. Outside of Epperson’s homer, the Vaqueros only managed four singles.

“We were still feeling some effects from the Orange Coast game,“ said coach Ryan Thompson. “Some of the kids were feeling sorry for themselves and it took us a couple of innings to figure it out. Those four runs in the first turned out to be the difference. We did hit the ball hard, considerably harder than either team we played.

“It took us a while to get where we wanted to go but we’re 100 percent tougher than where we were at the start. They really came together and became a good baseball team.

“We didn’t want it to end like this but we’re pleased to make the Super Regional for the first time. For the kids moving on, they’re going to learn a lot from this season.“

Cerritos ….. 400 010 000 — 5 7 2
SBCC ……. 100 010 001 — 3 5 2
 Rodriguez, Chavez (9) and Perry; Joyce, Alvarez (9) and White. W–Rodriguez 7-2. L–Joyce 7-1. S–Chavez 5.
 HR–SB: Epperson (1), 5th inn., none on.

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