CBB: SBCC pitchers shut down Fullerton in Super Regional finale

Jimmy Brakka went 4-fo-4 and drove in two runs to lead SBCC's offense in Sunday's series-clinching win over Fullerton.

Jimmy Brakka went 4-fo-4 and drove in two runs to lead SBCC’s offense in Sunday’s series-clinching win over Fullerton.

Pitching is taking the SBCC baseball team to the So Cal Final 4.

In the deciding game of a Super Regional series against Fullerton, Lucas Jacobsen, Ian Clark and Steven Ledesma combined on a six-hit shutout, leading the Vaqueros to a 6-0 win on Sunday at Pershing Park.

Third-seeded SBCC (32-9) will now host No. 10 Orange Coast for a three-game Southern California semifinal series, beginning Friday. The series winner advances to the State Finals in Fresno. This is the second straight year the Vaqueros have reached the So Cal Final 4.

Sunday’s shutout was fourth in five playoff games for the SBCC pitching staff. On Saturday, Justin Bruce kept the Vaqueros’ season alive with a two-hit gem.

Jimmy Brakka and Spencer Erdman paced the offense. Brakka, a San Marcos High grad, went 4-for-4 with 2 RBI and Erdman had three bunt singles.

Jacobsen (8-3) went the first five innings and allowed five hits and struck out seven. He also walked three and got out of bases-loaded jams in the second and third innings.

“I didn’t have my best stuff and didn’t have good command of my fastball,” said Jacobsen, a 6-5 freshman left-hander who’s committed to Long Beach State next year. “I made sure to compete and I did well in making clutch pitches when it counted. It was good because I had my offense behind me early to give me some confidence.

“I haven’t pitched in a couple of weeks because Sean Barry and Justin Bruce have been dominating.”

The shutout is the 11th of the year for the Vaquero pitching staff, which is No. 3 in California with a 2.00 ERA. The Vaqueros didn’t give up an earned run to Fullerton (24-17) in three games, allowing just two unearned runs in a 13-inning first-game setback on Friday.

SBCC  got off to a fast start on Sunday with three runs in the first inning. Cameron Jones walked and went to third on Matt Henderson’s single to right. Jones scores on a sacrifice fly by Connor McManigal and Jimmy Hill reached base when shortstop Justin Row bobbled a tailor-made double-play ball for an error.

Henderson and Hill went to second and third on a wild pitch by starter Gordon Cardenas and both scored on Brakka’s one-out single to left that made it 3-0.

SBCC is 23-0 when scoring first this season and 13-0 when scoring in the first inning.

Henderson reached base four straight times, getting hit by pitches in his last three at-bats.

“We scored in the first, which was good, and our pitching and defense with a 4-0 lead … I’m sure in their dugout it probably felt like it was 10-0,” said SBCC coach Jeff Walker, who posted his 99th win of his four-year SBCC career. “Lucas Jacobsen did his thing, going five innings and our bullpen is very strong.

“Our pitching’s been great but our defense has been great, too,” he added. “You can’t throw shutouts without the other eight guys behind your pitcher.”

The Vaqueros got another run in the second when Matt Gimenez singled and Erdman laid down the first of his three bunt singles. Fullerton made a pitching change, and Jones greeted reliever Nico Castaneda with a sacrifice bunt that scored Gimenez and made it 4-0.

Brakka singled to left in the first, singled to right in the third and reached on an infield single in the fifth when he hit a hard shot that deflected off the pitcher’s glove to the second baseman, who threw late to first. His final hit was a one-out single to left in the seventh.

“It was ‘See ball, hit ball’ today and this was the most comfortable I’ve felt in a long time,” said Brakka. “It felt great to finally break out. We had so much confidence coming into today because we knew we had three really good pitchers — guys who could be No. 1 at a lot of other schools.”

Clark gave up a single and two walks in two innings. He benefited from double plays that ended the sixth and seventh. Ledesma retired the final six batters in order on five groundouts and a strikeout looking to end the series.

“We feel like we have some unfinished business from last year,” said Walker, whose team was swept by Oxnard in last year’s Sectionals. “If our pitching and defense plays like they will, then we’ll be fine. And we’ll be at home this year.”

The other Southern Cal Sectional matchup is No. 11 Saddleback (27-14) at No. 1 Palomar (34-6). The winners of each Sectional will advance to the State Final Four on May 23-25 at Fresno City College.