CBB: Vaqueros bag two wins with great pitching

Kit Larson - SBCC Baseball

SBCC’s red-shirt freshman Kit Larson retired 13 consecutive batters in Saturday’s early game.

Pitching and defense will take you a long way in baseball and SBCC proved that point on Saturday in a doubleheader sweep of Napa Valley at Pershing Park.

Kit Larson tossed 5 1/3 innings of no-hit relief as the Vaqueros (3-0) rallied for a 7-5 victory in the morning. Justin Bruce threw a four-hitter in the second game with six strikeouts in a 9-2 romp. Both pitchers were making their college debuts.

“Justin did that for four years in high school,” said coach Jeff Walker. “Those guys helped us win the strike-throwing contest. Kudos to Justin Bruce and the defense that played behind him.”

Bruce, a 6-0 freshman right-hander, struck out six, walked two and didn’t allow a run until the eighth. He retired the side 1-2-3 in five of his nine inning. In the last three years at Willow Glen High in San Jose, Bruce compiled a 27-11 record with a 1.46 ERA in 45 appearances. He had 20 complete games during that span.

“I thought it was only seven innings at first, then I figured out it was nine,” said Bruce. “My fastball and curveball were both working. I think I only threw my changeup twice.

“Our defense was amazing today. We have a terrific defense.”

The Vaqueros scored twice in the first inning of the second game on an RBI single by James Brakka and a wild pitch that brought in Brandon Evans. Evans was 3-4 with three RBIs.

In the third inning, Jones made a spectacular diving catch after a long run from center field. Two pitches later, Matt Gimenez charged a bunt at third base and made a major-league throw to get leadoff hitter Jared Moreno at first base.

SBCC stretched the lead to 5-0 in the fourth on two walks, a two-run double by Trey Barrett and an RBI single by Gimenez. They scored four more in the eighth to make it 9-1 with the big blow coming on a three-run double by Evans.

Barrett, a former Santa Barbara High star, went 2-3 in the first game with a two-run double in the third that gave the Vaqueros a 3-2 lead.

“Our offense is potent, we’re going to put up a lot of runs this year,” said Barrett, a 6-7 first baseman who missed the last two years with injuries. “It’s a lot of fun to be back out here playing.”

The Vaqueros stole 10 bases on the day with Jones swiping three and Evans two. SBCC outscored Napa 25-10 while sweeping the three-game series.

The Storm (0-3) took a 5-3 lead in the opener on a two-run single by Ignacio Diaz in the fourth. The Vaqueros pulled with one at 5-4 on an RBI single by Noeh Martinez, then took the lead for good with three runs in the seventh. Spencer Erdman scored on a wild pitch, Martinez brought in Evans with a sacrifice fly and Matt Henderson added an RBI single.

Santa Barbara took advantage of four walks and four stolen bases in the seventh, including three steals of third.

Larson came on in relief of James Chadband with a runner on second and two outs in the fourth. He got a flyout to right to end the inning and proceeded to retire the first 13 batters in order. He set down 15 of 16 batters and the Vaqueros ended the game with a 6-4-3 double play started by Henderson, their freshman shortstop.

SBCC opens a five-game road trip on Friday with a 2 p.m. game at L.A. Harbor.