CBB: Vaqueros pound Napa in opener

SBCC starting pitcher Justin Bruce picked up the victory on Friday. (Presidio Sports Photo)

SBCC starting pitcher Justin Bruce picked up the victory on Friday. (Presidio Sports Photo)


Justin Bruce tossed seven innings of three-hit ball on Friday and Connor McManigal went 4-5 with three RBIs as SBCC opened the 2015 baseball season in style with a 16-3 victory over Napa at Pershing Park.

Bruce, a 6-1 sophomore from San Jose, struck out six and retired the last 13 batters in order. The Vaqueros took a 3-1 lead on McManigal’s two-run single to left. James Brakka walked, then James Hill doubled down the left-field line and Brakka scored on an error to make it 4-1.

Jimmy Brakka follows through on his RBI single in the first inning.

Jimmy Brakka follows through on his RBI single in the first inning.

“My fastball and slider were working toward the end,” said Bruce. “At the beginning, I couldn’t really find my slider so I only had my fastball to work with. The defense played great out there.

“I got pretty comfortable with my rhythm in the fourth inning. I was a little nervous at the beginning.”

Bruce gave up three straight singles with two outs in the third, then proceeded to retire the next 13 in order. He had five 1-2-3 innings, including four straight in the fourth through seventh frames. The right-hander went seven innings, allowing one run on three hits with six strikeouts.

“That was an outstanding effort by Justin to set the tone,” said Vaquero coach Jeff Walker. “He’s our guy and he picked up right where he left off last year. As a group, we had a little first-game jitters but once we settled into it, the game slowed down for us and things went our way.”

SBCC extended its lead to 8-1 with a run in the fourth and three more in the fifth. The Vaqueros piled up 16 hits and took advantage of nine walks and a hit batter by six Storm pitchers.

The 16 runs were the most by the Vaqueros since they beat West L.A. 19-5 in the third-to-last regular-season game last year.

Shortstop Matt Henderson went 3-3 and Hill, a sophomore catcher, was 2-5 with a double and a three-run homer down the left-field line that capped an eight-run seventh inning. The Vaqueros sent 13 batters to the plate in the seventh and collected seven hits while using five pinch hitters.

“Our guys were so excited to get out here and play our first game,” said McManigal, a sophomore left fielder from Santa Barbara High. “We all feed off each other, especially when it comes to hitting. And our pitching was great, it’s going to be there all year.

“A lot of guys were anxious but Coach Walker told us to use that to our advantage. Breaking it open is huge. Once we can separate from our opponents, we’re going to drive a lot of guys out of the water.”

The first six batters in the seventh all got hits and the first eight scored. McManigal notched his third single in as many innings to score Matt Henderson and make it 12-1. Brakka, the ninth batter, finally made an out with a sacrifice fly that brought home Spencer Erdman and chased reliever Allen Desrosiers.

“That was a good team offensive effort,” said Walker. “It was exciting and encouraging to see in the first game because the left-hander they threw (Mateo Fernandez) was pretty good. We chased him early and took advantage of their bullpen which was what we set out to do.

“Jimmy Hill’s homer put the exclamation point on it late. It’s early in the season but it’s always nice to get off to a good start.”

The same teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday at Pershing, starting at 11 a.m.