Short-Handed Baseball Achieves Most Wins In 14 Years

John Bicos is a returning All-South Coast Conference centerfielder for the Lancers baseball team.
John Bicos is a returning All-South Coast Conference centerfielder for the Lancers baseball team.

The Pasadena City College baseball team, ranked No. 14 in Southern California by the coach's association, reached the 19-win mark on Tuesday in a 5-4 win at No. 17 Ventura before Citrus snapped the Lancers' 3-game win streak, 11-9, on Wednesday at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Memorial Field. Both games were non-conference.

PCC played the two games without its top two players, first baseman Jeremy Conant and shortstop Alex Briggs, both resting minor injuries. Despite missing the two stars, the Lancers achieved their most wins in a season since 2003 when the team finished 19-18. However, that team received two forfeit wins from LA Harbor that reversed its record from 17-20. Next up for PCC is a possible 20-win season, last achieved by the 2001 team that finished 20-20.

Coach Pat McGee's Lancers (19-11 overall) continue to mash the cowhide with their sixth straight game totaling 10 hits or more (eight of the last nine). Against Citrus, frosh shortstop Jose Jimenez batted 3-for-5 with a triple and made three highlight reel defensive plays. Centerfielder John Bicos was 3-for-5 with three RBI and a sensational diving catch, almost a daily happening for the freshman. Freshman rightfielder Shane Ogata knocked in four RBI (2-for-3) and added a double and a stolen base. First-year catcher Jessie Garcia went 2-for-5 with a double.

Sophomore second baseman Andres Kim has put together a premium stretch of batting. He has a current 10-game hitting streak where he is 21-for-41 with six doubles, a home run, six walks, three hit-by-pitches, and 13 RBI. In the streak, the team's lead-off hitter is batting .512, slugging .732, and has an on-base percentage of .566. Also in the last 10 contests, Ogata has put together a hot streak in which he is 18-for-45 (.400) with two triples, three doubles and nine RBI. He has a run-scoring streak of nine games in a row and 15 total runs in that span.

PCC led Citrus, 4-3, before the Owls scored two in the fifth, four in the sixth and two more in the seventh to build an 11-4 lead. The Lancers fought back with four runs in the seventh and one more in the eighth, but Citrus closer Peter Eitapence left two Lancers stranded on first and second by getting Sumner Smith to fly out to right for the final out. 

In the Ventura road win, Kim batted 3-for-4 with two doubles and both Garcia and third baseman Nico Martinez went 2-for-5 to support the pitching of Jesse Hanckel (3-0), who tossed six innings, allowing just six hits, one earned run and striking out six. Nick Esparza picked up his sixth save. The Lancers jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on for their sixth 1-run victory of the season.

PCC next hosts SoCal No. 5 Glendale on Friday, April 14 in a 2:30 p.m. game at Brookside Park.