CBB: Evans doubles, Vaqueros walk off

Brandon Evans drilled a walk-off double to the right-field fence with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday, lifting SBCC to a 5-4 baseball win over Ventura at Pershing Park.

It was the second straight one-run triumph for the fourth-ranked Vaqueros, who improved to 26-8 overall and moved into a first-place tie with Oxnard atop the WSC North at 15-7. Cuesta (14-8) knocked off the Condors 4-2 on Tuesday.

SBCC plays its final regular-season games against Hancock on Thursday at home and Friday in Santa Maria with both starting at 2:30 p.m. Oxnard, ranked No. 3 in Southern Cal, finishes with a two-game set vs. Ventura.

The Vaqueros tied it 4-4 in the seventh when Cam Jones got to third on a single and two-base error, then trotted home on a single by Matt Henderson.

With two down in the ninth, Henderson was hit by a pitch from reliever Adisson Pelupessy. Henderson stole second and the left-handed Evans delivered the game-winning hit by driving an off-speed pitch deep into right field.

“It was a grind today,” said Evans, who made a sliding catch in center field to end the top of the ninth. “We obviously didn’t feel it pitching or hitting, so we had to grind out our at-bats and go pitch-by-pitch and just win every pitch.”

And what was he thinking in the ninth?

“I was trying to drive a ball up and get Matt home from first but once he got to second, I was just trying to put a ball in play. Just find some green.”

The Vaqueros are 14-3 at home this year and 25-1 when scoring four or more runs.

Noeh Martinez was 3-4 and Henderson went 2-4 with two of his team’s six stolen bases. Spencer Erdman drilled a two-run single with two outs in the second to forge a 2-2 tie. Erdman swiped second and third base on consecutive pitches in the fifth and moved up to No. 4 in the state with 23 steals in 28 attempts.

Ian Clark, a 6-6 right-hander, provided solid relief for his second straight appearance. He took over for starter Justin Bruce (4 runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings) with his team trailing 4-2 in the sixth. With runners on first and second and one out, Clark got Dylan Colman to look at strike three and got a flyout to end the threat.

“I just want to execute all the pitches that get called for me,” said Clark, who pitched five shutout innings against Pierce last Thursday. “I have faith that the guy’s going to hit the ball to where one of my defenders is playing. If I can execute the pitch well enough, he’ll swing and miss. I’m looking for the strikeout or the out but really, it’s all about putting up a zero.”

Clark gave up a double to Codi Santana to open the seventh, then retired the Pirates 1-2-3. Steven Ledesma (3-0) set down all six batters he faced in the eighth and ninth to earn the victory.

“Ian Clark picked us up and our best innings were the late innings,” said coach Jeff Walker. “Any win is a good win and Ventura is a good team, a well-coached team.

“I told Brandon he was going to win the game for us and that’s what he did.”

The Vaqueros cut the deficit to 4-3 in the sixth when Connor McManigal walked with two outs, stole second and went to third a throwing error. First baseman Jake Gagain drove him in with a single to right center.

The Vaqueros took the series from Ventura 3-1.

“We showed some toughness that we’ve been lacking at certain parts of the season,” Walker added. “It was good to win the series with our neighbors from the south and now we have two more single-elimination games.”