CBB: Vaqueros season ends with loss to Oxnard

Tyler Gilbert, who started Saturday's game, and the SBCC baseball team went farther in the postseason that any other team in school history.

Tyler Gilbert, who started Saturday’s game, and the SBCC baseball team went farther in the postseason than any other team in school history. (SBCC Photo)

Saturday’s second game of the Southern Cal Sectional baseball series looked a lot like the first one. No. 3 seed SBCC jumped out to a 2-0 lead at No. 2 Oxnard, only to see the Condors rally for three runs in the sixth on the way to a 3-2 victory.

Oxnard, the WSC North champion, won the best-of-3 series 2-0 and advanced to the State Final Four next weekend in Fresno. The Condors (33-10) came from behind to win Game 1 on Friday, 2-1.

The Vaqueros, who tied for fifth in the state, ended their best playoff run ever at 27-15.

“We started out playing well, then fell into a little slump hitting-wise,” said sophomore second baseman Brett Sesma, who led the offense with two hits. “We were still barreling balls up and that’s all you can do. You can’t control where it goes, you just try to hit it hard.”

The Vaqueros were the designated home team for Game 2 of the Sectional. Jack Gregson opened the bottom of the ninth with a pinch-hit single to right field. Brandon Evans tried to sacrifice but was called out for stepping on the plate. Gregson stole second on the next pitch and went to third on a groundout.

The game ended when Sesma hit a soft foul to the left side and Barnett, the third baseman, made a diving catch.

“I’m going to miss playing at the Persh and I’ll miss my teammates,” said Sesma, the only sophomore among the starting position players. “Oxnard has great pitchers and there’s a reason they’ve come this far.”

Santa Barbara jumped ahead 2-0 in the third on an RBI single by Brandon Evans and a run-scoring hit up the middle by Sesma.

Tyler Gilbert gave up two hits to open the game, then settled down to retire 13 of the next 14 batters. He got in trouble in the sixth when Jerrett Maas and Julian Ramon singled with one out. Ryan Webberley drove in one run with a double and Gilbert then walked Jeremy Alvarado intentionally to load the bases.

Cody Van Aken came on in relief and gave up a sacrifice fly to Daniel Barnett that tied it at 2. Webberley scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch and one pitch later, Jordan Farris fouled out to first.

Patrick Weigel (5-2) got the win, allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts for Oxnard, which went 21-2 at home this season. He was also a bit wild with four walks and three hit batters. The Vaqueros got hit three times in the fourth, including Matt Gimenez on the helmet, but Weigel got out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation by striking out Connor McManigal and getting Paddy O’Brien to fly out to right.

SBCC had another chance to score in the fifth when McManigal walked, stole second and went to third on a groundout. Jimmy Brakka walked and then strayed off first, trying to draw a throw from Weigel. Instead, the 6-7 sophomore faked a throw, then ran at McManigal who was in no-man’s land, halfway to home. Weigel ran all the way to McManigal and tagged him for the third out.

The Vaqueros were held to six hits and left 10 runners on base.

“I don’t know if it was so much the runners left-on-base as much as they made pitches when they needed to,” said SBCC’s third-year coach Jeff Walker. “It’s a tough place to hit and a tough place to play. They have some guys on the mound who can throw it OK.

“It was kind of a perfect storm. The stars aligned for them, they’ve been waiting a long time for a season like that and they got the right personnel with some guys who bounced back from four-year schools.”

Blake Redman came on in relief for the second straight day and pitched four innings for the Condors. He allowed just one hit while posting his ninth save.

Kit Larson was effective in relief for the Vaqueros, giving up no runs on three hits in three innings. He escaped a first-and-second, one-out jam in the seventh with a strikeout and double-play grounder, then got out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the eighth.

“I’m very proud of our group, we went farther than any team in school history with essentially one sophomore position player,” Walker added. “We battled today. We didn’t play a perfect game, they did play a perfect game and that’s why they came on top.”