CBB: Vaqs get early lead, Barry does rest in sectional opener

Sean Barry  fired a two-hitter, leading SBCC to a 3-1 win over Orange Coast. (Presidio Sports Photos)

Sean Barry fired a two-hitter, leading SBCC to a 3-1 win over Orange Coast. (Presidio Sports Photos)

Sean Barry pitched no-hit ball for seven innings on Friday and No. 3 SBCC scored three early runs to beat No. 10 Orange Coast 3-1 in Game 1 of the Southern Cal Sectional baseball series at Pershing Park.

Stephen Corona hit a leadoff homer to right field to open the eighth, ending Barry’s string of no earned runs at 31 innings. It was the first earned run SBCC has given up in six playoff games.

“It’s great to get a lead early,” said Barry (10-3), who finished with a two-hit complete game, striking out five and walking two. “It’s so much more comfortable to pitch with the lead. I might have taken my foot off the gas too much when I had those walks (in the fourth and fifth).

“The plays that Matty G. made at third today were unreal. He got me out of so many things.”
Matt Gimenez made a diving stop to start a 5-4-3 double play in the fourth and another backhand grab to ignite another around-the-horn double play to end the eighth.

“All week long, we’ve been working on technique and how to play certain balls,” explained Gimenez. “Our infield coach (Chris) Lasaca has been getting into me about getting deeper on that angle to the left side, so I’m able to get balls that I usually wouldn’t get. I expect to make those plays and it was just good to help out the team.”

Shortstop Matt Henderson made a good play on Chris Prescott’s chopper over the mound to record the second out in the sixth.

The Vaqueros improved to 33-9 and need one more win to tie the 2007 team for the most victories in school history. The 2007 squad went 34-10. Orange Coast, the defending state champion, fell to 25-17.

SBCC is 24-0 when scoring the first run this year. The Vaqueros, winners of nine of their last 10, are 20-4 at home.

The win was the 100th for head coach Jeff Walker. He’s 100-60 in four seasons as the Vaqueros’ skipper.

Santa Barbara scored twice in the second inning with a two-out rally. Colby Taylor hit back to starting pitcher Art Vidrio with two outs and Vidrio took the ball all the way to first but Taylor beat him to the bag for a hit. Noeh Martinez followed with an RBI double down the left-field line and Martinez scored on a single up the middle by Spencer Erdman.

“I had two strikes and I was just trying to protect the plate,” said Martinez. “He threw a slow curveball in my zone and I just turned on it.”

Erdman was 2-for-2 with an RBI and took over the team lead in hitting at .346.

The Vaqueros knocked out Vidrio, the Pirates’ ace left-hander, after four innings. Vidrio, last year’s State Tournament MVP, gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits with two strikeouts and three walks.

There were several unusual plays in the Sectional opener, including SBCC hitting into two double plays while trying to sacrifice bunt. The second one came in the fourth inning. Martinez was hit by a pitch and Gimenez tried to bunt him to second. The ball caromed off his hand, then off his body and back onto the field, just inside the third-base line.

The umpire thought the ball was bunted by Gimenez and ruled it fair. The Pirates threw to shortstop Jeff Nellis for the force at second, then his throw caromed off the helmet of Martinez and rolled behind third base. The umpires called interference on Martinez and ruled Gimenez out for the second out.

Spencer Erdman singled to the hole at shortstop and went to third on a single by Cameron Jones. Right fielder Tommy Bell tried to back-pick Jones at first and might have gotten him if James McLellan hadn’t dropped the ball. Erdman broke for home and McLellan’s throw was a split-second late, giving the Vaqueros a 3-0 lead in the fourth.

In three playoff games, Barry has allowed just two runs (one earned) on 11 hits in 28 innings with 20 strikeouts. His season ERA dipped to 1.29 and opponents are batting just .144 against him.

The Vaqueros’ team ERA dropped under two at 1.98, which is No. 2 in the state.

“Sean will the first to tell you he didn’t have his best stuff today but he gritted it out,” said Walker. “The defense did a good job against a very good hitting team. There were some weird plays today. I know I’ve never seen two double plays on sacrifice bunts.

Gimenez said the Vaqueros are determined to win the Sectional final. This is their second straight trip to the Southern Cal Final Four and the first time they’re playing at home.

“Last year was our first year together and we have basically the same group of guys with an even better pitching staff,” said Gimenez. “We just have such good chemistry which makes playing for a state championship so much more realistic.”

The teams will battle in Game 2 on Saturday at Pershing Park, starting at 1 p.m. Orange Coast will be the designated home team and bat second.

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