CBB: Vaqueros blank Mission 3-0 in Super Regional opener

Noeh Martinez went 2-for-3 and drove in the first two runs for SBCC.

Noeh Martinez went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs in the fourth inning for SBCC.

Justin Bruce pitched eight innings of shutout ball on Friday and Noeh Martinez came up big at the plate and in the field as SBCC opened its Super Regional baseball series with a 3-0 shutout of L.A. Mission.

The fourth-seeded Vaqueros have won three straight and five of the last six, boosting their records to 26-13 overall and 18-3 at Pershing Park. The 26 wins are the second-most in school history, surpassed only by the 2007 team (34-10), which played eight more regular-season games.

Santa Barbara leads the best-of-3 series 1-0 with Game 2 set for “The Persh” on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Bruce, a freshman right-hander, gave up eight hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Bruce (7-4) has been lights-out at home this year with a 6-0 record and 1.70 ERA.

“I was nervous in the beginning and then a little bit when some of my pitches started to fall off,” said Bruce, who won a CIF title last year at Willow Glen High in San Jose. “Once I saw our defense was making incredible plays, I was locked in.”

Kit Larson gave up a two-out double in the ninth, then got Austin Rodriguez on a flyout for his sixth save.

Martinez, a freshman from Los Angeles, went 2-3 with a two-out, two-run single that capped a three-run fourth inning. All the Vaquero runs were unearned after Matt Gimenez reached on an error by the first baseman.

Justin Bruce pitched eight shutout innings to pick up the victory.

Justin Bruce pitched eight shutout innings to pick up the victory in the Super Regional opener.

Fifteen minutes after taking a 3-0 lead, Martinez fielded a two-out single to right in the top of the fifth and gunned down Conner O’Brien, who was trying to score from second. Catcher Paddy O’Brien fielded the throw 10 feet up the line and applied a quick tag. “It was a ground ball right to me and I checked to see if the runner was rounding third,” said Martinez. “He was, and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to throw it home on a line and see what happens.’ “

Martinez said he was “sitting on a curveball” when he stroked his two-run single that made it 3-0.

“I was waiting for a curveball count and he gave me a curveball and I drove it back up the middle,” Martinez said. “We had some good defensive plays by our third baseman Matt Gimenez. I have a lot of confidence in my teammates. I know we’re going to get the job done on defense.”

Conner O’Brien paced the Eagles (25-15) by going 3-5 in the leadoff spot.

The Vaqueros loaded the bases in the first off left-handed starter Ryan McBride on a single by Brandon Evans, a sacrifice by Martinez, a walk to Brett Sesma and an intentional walk to O’Brien that loaded the bases with one out. Jimmy Brakka grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, however, ending the threat.

SBCC had two runners on in the second and got a runner to third with one out in the third inning but couldn’t score.

“That was an outstanding effort by our freshman pitcher Justin Bruce,” said coach Jeff Walker. “Throwing the first game of a Super Regional and giving us that kind of effort … that’s outstanding. And the other eight guys behind him played solid defense.

“Their starter was walking a tightrope in the first few innings and we finally pushed some runs across.”

Spencer Erdman drove in the Vaqueros’ first run in the third with a single to left that scored Jimmy Hill.

In addition to Martinez throwing out a runner at home, O’Brien erased a runner at third on a ball hit off the plate and Gimenez got Clay Hubbard at the plate on a grounder to third in the eighth.

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