Starting pitcher Jesse Hanckel and reliever Matthew McElligott combined for six innings of no-hit ball and closer John Mendoza wiggled out of a ninth-inning jam as the Pasadena City College baseball team downed Victor Valley, 7-5, Tuesday at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.
The Lancers, ranked No. 18 in the CCCBCA South Region Top 20 poll, improved to 8-4 while the Rams dropped to 7-9. Hanckel, a 6-foot-4 righthander and the starting quarterback on PCC's 2016 football team, allowed three walks and struck out three in his four innings of work before giving way to McElligott (St. Francis High), who retired all six batters he faced with one K.
While PCC's pitchers were holding VVC batters in check, so was Rams' starter Josh Gooding, who only allowed one hit over the first five innings. Unfortunately for Gooding, the Lancers used two Victor Valley errors to score four runs and take eventually a 5-0 lead after six.
Victor Valley clawed back first by breaking up the no-no with a lead-off home run in the seventh by Kyle Callahan off PCC reliever Hugo Avendano. The Rams scored four runs in the eighth to tie it, 5-5, thanks in part to two Lancers' throwing errors.
In the eighth, PCC grabbed the lead again when second baseman Andres Kim knocked in third baseman Jose Jimenez from second with a RBI single. Kim then plated the insurance run on a squeeze bunt and error by Victor Valley. Kim was 2-for-2, scored three runs, launched a booming ground-rule double in the sixth, stole two bases, drew a walk and dropped a successful sacrifice bunt.
Jimenez batted 2-for-3 while catcher Jessie Garcia was 1-for-2 with two RBI.
In the ninth, Mendoza allowed the first two runners on base on a single and walk but recovered for his second save by striking out the next two batters and then getting Joshua Burns to line out to Kim to end it. The Lancers fourth pitcher Nick Esparza got credit for his second win.
First baseman Jeremy Conant, an All-South Coast Conference First Team letterman, was second in the state in batting (.500) going into the game but went 0-for-4 that dropped him to seventh at a .457 average. The lefty-hitting Conant had a stretch last week where in 12 plate appearances he was a perfect 8-for-8 with two walks, a hit by pitch and a sacrifice fly (not charged for an at bat).
With the win over Victor Valley, PCC snapped a 2-game losing streak. On Feb. 25 at Brookside Park, Ventura handed the Lancers a 7-2 defeat despite 3-hit games from Conant and backup catcher Matt Shults.
On Feb. 23, PCC lost a controversial 6-5 decision at Citrus. In the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied 5-5, Citrus' Donovyn Curiel was apparently called out on a fielder's choice play at second base with the base umpire making a clear out call. But instead Curiel, with no one else on site aware of the situation, ran to third base after PCC could not complete a double play to first. Instead of a runner on first and two outs, Citrus all of a sudden had the potential winning run on third. On the very next pitch, the Owls' Kristian Scott hit a walk-off RBI single through the right side for the winning run. PCC head coach Pat McGee was alerted of the mistake after the hit but his post-game discussion with umpires was futile and the Western State Conference commissioner decided the game's final result stands.
The Lancers begin South Coast Conference play on Thursday, Mar. 2 when they host El Camino College in a 2 p.m. contest.