CBB: Vaqueros sweep opening playoff series

SBCC Baseball SoCal Regional Playoffs

The SBCC dugout celebrates during the first game of the Vaqueros’ two-game playoff series. (Megan Genovese Photo)


SBCC scored seven runs in a two-inning stretch on Saturday and went on to beat San Bernardino Valley 8-2 and claim the Southern Cal Regional baseball series 2-0.

The sixth-seeded Vaqueros (25-13) improved to 17-3 at home and moved into the Super Regional for just the second time in school history.

Santa Barbara will host a Super Regional for the first time ever when No. 7 L.A. Mission (25-14) comes to Pershing Park for a best-of-3 series on May 9-11. The first game will be Friday at 2 p.m.

A pair of teams from SBCC’s conference — Hancock and L.A. Pierce — did the Vaqueros a big favor by winning two games each on Saturday and upsetting No. 4 Palomar and No. 5 Cerritos, respectively. Four WSC North teams are among the final eight in the Regional – SBCC, Oxnard, Pierce and Hancock.

Sophomore left-hander Tyler Gilbert returned from a three-week hiatus to toss six innings of two-run ball, allowing six hits and striking out seven. Cody Van Aken pitched the last three innings for his second save.

“I had soreness in my forearm and it felt good to be back,” said Gilbert, who signed to play at USC before the season. “My curveball was working better and my splitter was working at the beginning of the game.”

Jimmy Brakka had four RBIs, including a three-run single during a five-run third inning that gave the Vaqueros a 5-1 lead. Paddy O’Brien was hit by pitches in his first two at-bats, then delivered a two-run double to left in the fourth, stretching the advantage to 7-1.

The Wolverines (26-12) were the home team for Game 2 of the best-of-3 series and took a 1-0 lead in the first on a double by Jason Wilcoxson and a sacrifice fly by AJ David.

The Vaqueros loaded the bases with one out in the third on a Brandon Evans’ single, an infield error and a walk to Brett Sesma. Connor McManigal drove in the first run with an RBI single and O’Brien was hit by a pitch to force in a run, which chased San Bernardino starter Anthony Carrizosa.

Brakka then delivered the hit of the day, a bad hop single past the second baseman that scored three runs. O’Brien, a 6-5 freshman catcher, came all the way around from first to make it 5-1.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play, hard on the ground like always and it turns out Persh gave back,” said Brakka, referring to the big hop off the infield grass at Pershing Park. “That only seems to happen in games, not so much in practice.”

Evans and McManigal had two hits apiece on a day when the Vaqueros scored eight runs on only six hits.

O’Brien reached base seven straight times in the two games before flying out to left in the seventh. Four Wolverine pitchers combined for four walks and four hit batters.

“I was just sticking with the process, one pitch at time,” said O’Brien. “We cracked it open in the third. We’re loaded up and down the lineup, so we can usually break it open at some point.”

SBCC coach Jeff Walker was happy to see Gilbert get back on track.

“We were fortunate to have a couple of two-game weeks to give him some time off,” said Walker. “He’s our guy and we’re going to need him going forward.”