CBB: Vaqueros hosting SoCal Sectionals at Pershing

SBCC has reached the Southern Cal Sectionals in baseball for the second straight year but this time, the Vaqueros will be home for the first time ever.

No. 3 Santa Barbara, the WSC North co-champion with a 32-9 record, will take on No. 10 Orange Coast (25-16), the defending state champion, on Friday at 3 p.m. at Pershing Park in the opener of the best-of-3 series. Game 2 is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. and Game 3 (if necessary) will be played on Sunday at noon.

The weather forecast for Friday is 66 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain showers in the morning and sunshine later in the day.

Pitching and defense have paved the way for the Vaqueros in the first two rounds as they defeated Rio Hondo 2-0 and Fullerton 2-1. SBCC is 4-1 in the playoffs with four shutouts and three complete games.

The Vaquero pitchers are ranked No. 3 in the state with a 2.00 ERA while Orange Coast is 18th at 3.35. Santa Barbara has won eight of its last nine games with five shutouts.

SBCC’s No. 1 pitcher Sean Barry (9-3) hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 24 innings. He has the fourth-best ERA in the state (1.32) and he’s No. 2 in strikeouts with 102. Barry is 5-0 at Pershing Park with a 0.97 ERA in eight starts.

Justin Bruce has thrown two complete-game shutouts, a 3-hitter vs. Rio Hondo when he used just 65 pitches and a 2-hitter last Saturday vs. Fullerton in a must-win Game 2. Bruce (8-1) is 24th in the state with a 1.89 ERA.

First baseman Jimmy Brakka went 4-4 with two RBI in last Sunday’s 4-0 win that clinched the Super Regional series. Shortstop Matt Henderson (.340, 18 stolen bases) and Spencer Erdman (.338, 24 RBI, 26 stolen bases) lead the Vaquero offense. Catcher James Hill, the WSC North co-Player of the Year, is hitting .329 with a team-high 33 RBI.

The Vaqueros are fifth in the state with 90 stolen bases and have only allowed 25. Erdman is third in the state in stolen bases and second in double plays (37).

Orange Coast advanced to the Sectional by beating No. 7 Long Beach 2-0 and No. 8 Glendale 2-1 after dropping the first game, 13-0. The Pirates finished third in the Orange Empire Conference (12-9). Seven of the eight OEC teams made the playoffs.

The Pirates are led by center fielder Chris Prescott (.342) and right fielder Tommy Bell (.318, 29 RBI). The top pitchers are Art Vidrio (8-2, 3.00 ERA) and Scott Serigstad (6-3, 2.60).

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.

All three games will be Live Streamed on the Vaquero Broadcasting Network with Ryan Graff calling the action. [BROADCAST LINK]