SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Game write up courtesy of SBCC Sports Information Director Dave Loveton
Grant Nechak pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings ona windy Thursday at Pershing Park and Moorpark scored all the runs of the dayin the second inning of a 3-0 baseball win over SBCC.
The Raiders (22-15, 10-7) moved intofirst place in the WSC North, a half-game ahead of the Vaqueros (18-18, 9-7).Hancock and Ventura are tied for third at 9-8, one game behind with three toplay.
The Vaqueros have four games remainingand they’ll get a chance to regain the top spot when they play at Moorpark onSaturday, starting at 1 p.m.
“A day like today with their pitcher,it’s almost not fair to have a guy who pitches on one side of the plate withthe wind howling in from left field,” said Vaquero coach Jeff Walker.“From our end, we only had one left-handedhitter in the lineup. Their guy was throwing soft ones and fastballs in.
“He’s good and he probably got himselfconference Pitcher of the Year today with that effort.”
Nechak (6-2), a 6-4 sophomoreright-hander who pitched for Santa Clara University last year, entered the gamewith the No. 2 ERA in the WSC North (2.86). He scattered 10 hits and kept theVaqueros off the scoreboard despite the home team having two baserunners ineach of the first four innings. John Cashman came on with two outs and a runneron first in the eighth. Shortstop Dominic Ruggiero dropped a high pop behindthe mound and Jake Holton sprinted to third.
Cashman ended the 8th-inning threat bygetting Elijah Hodges to ground to second. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with twostrikeouts for his fourth save.
Ian Churchill turned in a solid seveninnings for the Vaqueros. The freshman left-hander from San Marcos High gave upthree runs (two earned) on just three hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
The Raiders got all three hits in thesecond inning. Paul Abate led off with a double that bounced off the first-basebag and over Holton’s shoulder into right field. James Terrazas followed withan RBI single just inside the right-field line. Grant Bunker singled up themiddle and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. Shortstop Ryan Guardino couldn’thandle a grounder by Michael Teobaldi and Terrazas came in to score. JasonHyman followed with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Bunker with anunearned run.
Designated hitter Mitch Sancier went3-for-4 for the Vaqueros and Reinhard Lautz was 2-4. SBCC outhit the Raiders10-6 and left nine on base.
The Vaqueros had two runners tagged outat home and another was erased at second base trying to stretch a single into adouble. Guardino singled to lead off the third and advanced to third on twogroundouts. When a pitch bounced in the dirt about 10 feet from the catcher.Guardino took off for home but he was out on a diving tag by the catcher, Teobaldi.
Holton singled to open the bottom of thefourth and went to second on a groundout. Sancier beat out a grounder to secondfor a hit and Holton tried to score from second but was cut down when the firstbaseman fired to Teobaldi for the third out.
“Live by the sword, die by the sword,”said Walker. “An inch either way and both those guys are safe. They had to doeverything right to beat us. They threw the right pitcher and made all theplays.”
There was another weird bounce in thethird when Patrick Caulfield drilled a ball at the pitcher and it richochetedright back to the catcher, who threw him out at first, 1-2-3 on the scorecard.
“That was a must-win for them and it wastheir day to win,” Walker added. “We’re still only a half-game back and we’llbe playing both teams (one vs. Moorpark, two vs. Ventura) that we need to beatto win the conference.
“We were a couple pitches away and acouple balls going one way or the other. Ian competed really well today.They’re not terribly offensive as you can see. It was a good matchup but maybethe wrong day for it with the wind blowing in from left field. You can’tcontrol the weather or the way a ball goes off the bat.
“We made an inning’s worth of outs onthe bases and then we hit into two big double plays that killed out momentum.They played flawless defense. We hit the ball well, we were just missing aquality at-bat or two.”