Rio Hondo routs SBCC to win series

SBCC couldn’t do much in Game 2 of the Southern Cal Baseball Regional on Saturday and Rio Hondo did everything in a 12-1 victory at Whittier.

The Vaqueros lost the best-of-3 series two games to none. SBCC, the 15th seed and WSC North co-champion, finishes at 20-19. The No. 2 Roadrunners improved to 35-3 with their 30th straight win.

Rio Hondo outhit the Vaqueros 16-2 and got a stellar pitching effort from A.J. Gonzalez. He pitched two-hit ball for eight innings, allowing just a first-inning run and two hits. He struck out three and walked two to improve to 11-0.

“Their guy was good,” said SBCC coach Jeff Walker. “We just hit a wall and ran into a strong team.”

The Roadrunners scored three in the fourth to boost the lead to 5-1. Third baseman Andrew Stein was 2-3 with a double, a triple and five RBIs.

SBCC starter Rich McCaffrey lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. Lucas Benenati went 4 1/3 frames and allowed four hits, including a two-run homer by Tim Smoley that made it 7-1 in the seventh.

Leadoff hitter Eli Michaels doubled in the bottom of the first (SBCC was designated as the home team for Game 2) and scored on Joey Epperson’s sacrifice fly. The only other hit by the Vaqueros was a two-out single by Pat Cavalier in the fifth.

SBCC won its last five games in must-win situations to earn a share of the WSC North title and get into the Regional. The Vaqueros opened the playoffs with a marathon 6-5 win in 16 innings over Canyons on Tuesday.

In Walker’s first season at the helm, Santa Barbara claimed its second straight conference title and went to the Regional in back-to-back years for the first time in school history.

“We battled all year to the last strike and last out,” said Walker. “The sophomores set a high standard in their two years here. We have a lot of good guys coming back and good guys coming in.

“I think we’ll be able to defend our WSC title and go farther in the playoffs next year.”

Rio Hondo ……. 002 300 205 — 12 16 0
SBCC ………….. 100 000 000 — 1 2 0
Gonzalez, Smigelski (9) and Doyle; McCaffrey, Benenati (4), Turner (8), Nieves (9), Foote (9) and Dinges. W–Gonzalez 11-0. L–McCaffrey 5-4.
2B–RH: Davis, Stein, Granados. SB: Michaels. 3B–RH: Stein. HR–RH: Smoley (4), 7th inn., one on.
Records–RH 35-3, SBCC 20-19.