CBB: Vaqueros get creative to snap slump, 13-2

A little incense and a few drops of dragon’s blood helped SBCC break out of its offensive doldrums on Saturday in a 13-2 WSC North baseball victory over visiting L.A. Pierce.

The Vaqueros roared out to a 9-0 lead after two innings and Justin Bruce (3-1) pitched seven innings of scoreless ball. SBCC, ranked No. 7 in Southern Cal, improved to 12-4 overall and 5-3 in the tight WSC North race. The Vaqueros are third behind Oxnard and Cuesta (both 6-2). Pierce (9-10, 6-4) fell from first to fourth place.

Santa Barbara piled up 13 runs on 13 hits after scoring just three runs in the previous 18 innings. The Vaqueros are 8-1 at home this year, where they’re averaging nearly seven runs a game.

“It was nice to see that kind of offensive output after our last two games, where we were kind of thin,” said coach Jeff Walker. “We went to Paradise Found here in town and burned some incense, got some dragon’s blood and put some sage on our bats. We had a little séance yesterday to get the evil off our bats.”

The Vaqueros had gone 17 straight innings without a run before scoring three times in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss at Pierce on Thursday.

Santa Barbara sent 10 batters to the plate in the first and took a 5-0 lead on two hits, four walks and three errors. They added four more in the second to chase Pierce starter Austin Peters, the first of six Brahma pitchers. Catcher James Hill had a two-run double and James Brakka added a two-run single to center made it 9-0.

Cameron Jones went 2-4 and scored four times in his second start as the leadoff batter.

“Coming off a few losses, we wanted to come out strong out of the gate,” said Jones, a sophomore from Righetti High who fires up the Vaqueros with a back-flip before every game. “We want to see a lot of pitches and get to their bullpen early.

“I’m just looking for a pitch to hit. I want to see a lot of pitches and bring back information to my teammates. We can definitely swing it and today was an indication of what we can do when we come together as a team.”

Jones reached on an infield single in the third and scored an unearned run on Dallas Bacon’s RBI single. The Vaqueros made it 13-0 in the fifth when Jones delivered an RBI double to left and scored on a double-play groundout.

Bruce tossed seven innings of shutout ball, allowing just seven singles. He lowered his ERA to 1.29, third-best in the WSC North. The Vaqueros’ team ERA of 2.05 is No. 1 in Southern Cal and No. 4 in the state.

“I was happy to see the run support today,” said Bruce. “I’d say I had a little of everything working today, I threw maybe two change-ups. What was working was our offense and all I had to do was go out there and throw strikes.”

Dallas Bacon went 2-3 and Hill was 2-4. Angel Cruz led the Brahma attack by going 4-4 with two RBIs on a ninth-inning single.

“Cameron Jones set the tone early,” said Walker, who sent seven straight pinch-hitters to the plate in the seventh and eighth innings. “He saw a lot of pitches and got on base. That’s what we’re looking for in the leadoff spot.

“Justin Bruce did what he does with seven shutout innings. He’s a competitor. They brought their ‘A game’ to try and compete with him and he rose to the challenge.”

The Vaqueros will play a two-game series vs. Ventura – Tuesday at Ventura and Thursday at home – with both games starting at 2:30 p.m.