Baseball Begins Month With Split v. Two WSC Teams

PCC shortstop Jose Jimenez beats out a throw in a recent game. The sophomore has hit safely in all five Lancers games and is batting .435 overall, photo by Richard Quinton.
PCC shortstop Jose Jimenez beats out a throw in a recent game. The sophomore has hit safely in all five Lancers games and is batting .435 overall, photo by Richard Quinton.

The Pasadena City College baseball team opened the month of February by splitting a pair of games the past few days against Western State Conference schools. The Lancers defeated host Los Angels Valley, 9-2, on Thursday, then were handed an 8-2 loss v. Ventura on Saturday at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field.

PCC fell to 3-2 after the Pirates (2-1) outhit the Lancers, 18-10, and jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings, knocking out starting pitcher Gary Acuna. Remarkably, it was the third straight home game that Pasadena fell behind 4-0. The team won only one of those three contests.

Chris McKee batted 4-for-5 while Eric Thrower hit two of Ventura's five doubles. PCC's hot pitching cooled down a bit as Jesus Zarazua (two innings, 2-hit scoreless relief) was the lone hurler out of five pitchers to solve the Pirates' bats. For the Lancers, infielder Nico Martinez, centerfielder John Bicos and designated hitter Tony Shue each collected two hits.

In the sixth, PCC tried to rally when third baseman Ryan Whithorn hit a RBI single to right-center that cut Ventura's lead to 5-2 and knocked out starting/winning pitcher Blake Campbell at that point. But with runners on first and third, Pirates' reliever Daniel Lung promptly struck out Lancers' first baseman Jason Ajamian looking and got leftfielder Kevin Miles to hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. It was the 11th double play in only five games performed on PCC's offense.

On Feb. 1 at LAVC, the Lancers were led by Whithorn, who slugged 3-for-5, ripping a single, triple and the team's first home run, a 2-run blast to left in the seventh inning that capped the game's scoring. Whithorn wasn't the only Lancer to miss the cycle by one as first baseman Daniel Netz went 3-for-4 on a single, double and triple. Bicos was 2-for-5 with a triple while second baseman Alex Jelloian also added two of the team's 14 hits. 

The offensive attack saw the Lancers score in each of the first four innings, including a 4-spot in the third as they led 6-0 at that point. PCC ace Gordon Ingebritson moved to 2-0 as he pitched six innings, allowing seven hits, two earned runs, one walk and striking out three. Frank Gonzalez then picked up the save with three no-hit innings (3 Ks). His only blemish was a hit by pitch in the ninth. 

One early surprise for the Lancers is their batting as they have reached 10 hits or more in each of the first five games of the season while hitting .328 and slugging .448. PCC has 16 extra-base hits in the past four games. PCC head coach Pat McGee said while the overall results have looked good at the plate, the stats are not telling the story.

"One reason we are only 3-2 is we have left a ton of batters on base (averaging close to nine) and our lack of clutch at bats," McGee said. "We have a lot of young freshmen who are going to need time to adjust to this level. On the pitching side, we allowed just 27 hits in the first four games. If we can get four strong overall efforts out of every five games, I'll take that. Defensively, we need work but we've also had some good play at several positions."

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, the Lancers return to the diamond to play at Citrus College in a 2 p.m. start. Nine of PCC's first 12 non-conference games are against WSC colleges.