The Pasadena City College baseball team opened up the 2017 season in grand style in routing West Los Angeles twice in a home-and-home series on Friday-Saturday. The Lancers rolled to a 15-5 victory in the season opener at West LA (in Culver City) and followed that with a 10-3 triumph Saturday at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.
PCC (2-0) had several big contributors in the wins, including returning All-SCC first baseman Jeremy Conant, who collected six hits in the two games. Frosh second baseman Jose Jimenez went 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored in the home win.
An encouraging sign was that head coach Pat McGee's freshmen class of local high school recruits already are producing. Centerfielder John Bicos (St. Francis High) reached base safely in his first eight collegiate at bats over the two games before West LA (0-2) figured out a way to get him out with a called strikeout in the seventh inning Saturday. Bicos just missed reaching on a hit down the line that was ruled foul prior to the called strike. Overall, Bicos is 3-for-4 with four walks and two hit by pitches in his first taste of collegiate ball.
At Brookside, Bicos ripped a 2-RBI double to deep center during a first inning that resulted in a 5-0 Lancers lead. PCC batted around in sending 11 batters to the plate. The Lancers added two runs in the second inning and that was more than enough for winning pitcher and starter Paul McAllister, who hurled six innings of 5-hit ball, allowing just one run and no walks. McAllister is more than familiar with the Robinson Field mound as a pitching ace there in high school for Maranatha.
PCC finished with just eight hits, but took advantage of the wildness of the WildCats as their six pitchers handed out 11 walks, four hit by pitches, and four wild pitches. The WLAC defense was no better with four errors and two passed balls.
Nick Esparza (Monrovia High), a letterman innings-eater from the 2015 staff, returned with two strong innings of relief of McAllister. He allowed just one hit and struck out two.
In the ninth inning, rightfielder Brett Wheat, another local from La Salle High, made the defensive play of the game with a diving catch.
In Friday's win called after 7-1/2 innings due to darkness, reliever Jesse Hanckel, the quarterback on PCC's 2016 football team, struck out three batters in his only inning of work. Chris Brown started and picked up the win with five innings of work. Conant and DH Anthony Fickewirth each drove in three RBI.
"It was a good start," McGee said. "Paul pitched a great game for his first college appearance. We played clean defensively and our three pitchers didn't give up a single walk at home. The important thing is, after all the rain, we had a ton of freshmen get their feet wet and some of the nerves out. Our patience at the plate is another plus from the two wins."
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, PCC hosts Mt. San Jacinto in a 2 p.m. first pitch at JR Field.