Last year when PCC won its first three games, it marked the fastest start by a Lancers team in 52 years. But after the Lancers swept a doubleheader over Imperial Valley at Brookside Park on Saturday, Pasadena is reaching greater heights under third-year head coach Pat McGee. PCC leads the state in runs and is perfect thus far in 2017 at 6-0.
The 1965 Lancers started that season with a 10-game win streak. Win streaks like the one PCC is on right now have been few and far between since the team started to play off campus in the late 1980s after PCC tore down its then on-campus field to increase the parking area for students.
McGee's first team in 2015 won 10 games, then 13 last season, big improvements from the 14 wins combined from the 2012-14 squads. But with six victories already this season, thoughts of a winning season are becoming a real possibility. You have to go back to the 2003 team for PCC's last better-than-.500 season at 19-18.
Against Imperial Valley in the first game, PCC jumped ahead 7-0 but the Arabs rallied for five runs in the sixth inning and pressed the Lancers until Nick Esparza stranded the potential tying run on second for the 1-out save in an 8-7 victory. The game was a scheduled 7-inning contest.
Second baseman Jose Jimenez batted 2-for-4 with a RBI double and first baseman Jeremy Conant was 2-for-3. Rightfielder Nico Martinez reached base all four times, 1-for-1 with two walks and a hit by pitch.
Chris Brown (2-0) threw five shutout innings before the rough sixth inning. He struck out nine batters overall while allowing five runs in 5.2 innings with no walks.
In game 2, Imperial Valley led 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth when Jimenez ripped a RBI single to left for a 2-1 PCC advantage. In the sixth, Brett Wheat launched a 2-run double to left center to help make it 5-1. Finally in the seventh, PCC sent 10 runners to the plate, scoring seven runs when the game was called at that point for darkness--a 12-1 win.
Sergio Valenzuela pitched three shutout innings, allowing three hits for the mound win in relief of Esparza, who threw three strong innings (five hits, one run). Martinez batted 2-for-3 and gunned out a runner at the plate from left field. Jimenez, Conant, Wheat, and Tanner Whitlock each had two hits. Whitlock's squeeze bunt single in the sixth inning turned out to be the game-winning run in the first game.
"We can be excited about the win streak and still feel like we have work to do," McGee said. "We made some big mental mistakes during the two games today. Those are mistakes that can cost you against better teams. At the same time, our pitching has been outstanding, and the offense has generated a ton of runs. The players are buying in to Lancers baseball, and are showing great confidence."
PCC has 66 runs scored to lead the state in that team category.
On Friday, PCC routed host Los Angeles Valley, 14-2. Shortstop Alex Briggs went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI and Jimenez hit 2-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Martinez added a 2-for-3 with two RBI, a double and a stolen base.
The Lancers host LA Mission College on Tuesday, Feb. 7 in a 2 p.m. first pitch.