The 2017 Pasadena City College baseball team keeps reaching new heights and on Tuesday, it was win No. 20 for Coach Pat McGee's Lancers, the first time a PCC squad totaled as many victories since 2001. PCC routed visiting East Los Angeles, 16-1, at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.
PCC (20-12 overall) improved to 11-6 as it kept its firm grip on first place in the South Coast Conference North Division. The Lancers are two games ahead in the win column, three in front in the loss column to current second place Rio Hondo (9-9 in league play). Pasadena has five games left on the 22-game conference slate.
Shooting for its first conference title in 45 years, the Lancers need two more wins to achieve their most conference victories in a season since joining the South Coast in 1987. PCC won 12 twice, once in 2001 (20-20 overall, 12-12 in conference) and the other in 2003 (12-12, aided by two forfeits by LA Harbor that reversed the team's record to .500).
The Lancers may have set a state and surely a school record against the Huskies as they became a collective human magnet by being on the receiving end of 10 hit-by-pitches. Alex Briggs (#1) was hit in the first inning, then Jose Jimenez (#2) and Nico Martinez (#3) were plunked in the second. Jimenez (#4) drew another HBP in the third before Briggs (#5) was nailed by a pitch to lead off the fifth. In the sixth, Jessie Garcia (#6) drew a HBP, then Shane Ogata (#7) was hit with the bases loaded to drive in a run. John Bicos (#8) joined the be hit parade in the seventh, and in the eighth, it was time for Brett Wheat (#9) and Andres Kim (#10) to receive the medicine. Four different ELAC pitchers combined for the wild HBP record.
The double digits in free passes via hit batsmen was only part of a PCC offense that generated 27 baserunners (13 hits and four walks). The Lancers knocked out six doubles, two each by first baseman Jeremy Conant and Briggs. Conant raised his batting average to now third in the state at .465 by going 4-for-5 with three RBI, including a laser line drive for a sacrifice fly. Conant broke the 50-hit mark and his current 114 hits over his two seasons makes him the school's all-time hits leader.
The sophomore letterman shortstop Briggs, who missed last week's action to rest a lower body ailment, returned to the lineup and went 3-for-4 with four RBI. He continued a hitting binge where he is 15-for-24 with four doubles and 10 RBI over his last five games. Bicos, who reached base four times, was 1-for-3 with three RBI and made the defensive play of the game on an over-the-shoulder diving catch in deep center that ended the eighth.
Starter Jesse Hanckel had one of the PCC pitching staff's finest efforts of the season as he hurled eight innings, scattering nine hits, walking two and striking out eight. Hanckel improved to 4-0 on the hill and lowered his team-best ERA to 2.96 in 45.2 innings. Chris Brown threw a 1-2-3 ninth to close the team 20th victory.
On Thursday, April 20, the Lancers will play under the lights as they continue their 3-game series at East Los Angeles (6 p.m. first pitch).