Extra innings raises the pressure of who will come through or who will fail in the clutch. For the Pasadena City College baseball team, however, it seems to hit a comfort zone when the game is tied after nine innings. On Saturday night, the Lancers won for the third time in extra innings this year, and the sixth consecutive in the game's version of overtime in the past three years.
PCC's 6-3, 10-inning win at East Los Angeles allowed the Lancers to win the 3-game series v. the Huskies, 2-games-to-1. Pasadena (18-16 overall) improved to 9-7 in the South Coast Conference North Division, and its current fourth-place standing may just be temporary. The Lancers are only a half game behind both East LA and Chaffey (each 10-7) for second place. PCC now has a tie-breaker over ELAC and can pass Chaffey this week as the those two play in a 3-game set this week. The Lancers then finish the season with a 3-game series against last-place Rio Hondo April 24-27.
Since head coach Pat McGee took over the program in 2015, the Lancers are 10-3 in extra-inning games and a remarkable 4-0 against East LA. In the top of the 10th on April 14, PCC loaded the bases on a single by shortstop Jose Jimenez, a walk to designated hitter Tony Shue, and an error on a a sacrifice bunt laid down by centerfielder John Bicos. Leftfielder Edward Manzo drew a walk to score Jimenez for a 4-3 lead. Third baseman Nico Martinez, who finished with a team season-best five RBI, ripped a 2-run single for insurance. In the eighth inning, Martinez gave PCC a 3-2 lead on 2-run base hit.
The pitching staff again was brilliant as starter Nathan Garkow (six innings, three hits, one earned run, no walks, two hit-by-pitches, six Ks) and relievers Lorenzo Llorens (two innings, one hit, one unearned run, 5 strikeouts) and Race Gardner (two no-hit innings, winner with 4-1 record) combined for a 4-hitter.
"I really can't explain our success in extra frames," McGee said. "I guess the players understand how important every at bat comes to affecting a game. It's certainly not by design because believe me, it's worse on coaches when the game isn't decided in nine. That was a huge win for many reasons, but most importantly gives us a little edge in trying to reach second place. But we are far from clinching any playoff spot. We have to keep winning."
On April 12 at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field, ELAC blanked the Lancers, 3-0, behind strong pitching by Paul Kosanovich (7.2 IP, six hits, 4 Ks). Kosanovich outdueled Pasadena hurler Gordon Ingebritson (5-4 record, seven innings, five hits, three walks, three hit batsmen, and eight Ks). Bryan Duenas led the Huskies as he was 3-for-4, drove in two runs and slugged a home run to center field in the eighth inning.
In the series opener on April 10, PCC scored four runs in the fifth to take a commanding 6-1 lead and went on to post a 9-5 road triumph. Martinez singled in a run in the fourth sandwiched between bases-loaded RBI walks to Manzo and rightfielder Ardon Fryer. In the eighth, PCC led 7-5 when with Manzo on third base (singled, stole second, advanced to third on catching throwing error) and Martinez on first, the PCC letterman took off to steal second and again an errant catcher throw allowed both Manzo and Martinez to score. Ironically, both errors were made by former Lancer Matt Shults, a member of last year's SCC North Division champion PCC team who transferred to ELAC for his sophomore season.
PCC's pitching in the win included three innings of work by Gardner, who started (three innings, three hits, one run), Jesus Zarazua (two innings, 2 runs, winning pitcher), and a 3-inning, no-hit save by Lorenzo Llorens, who struck out three. On offense, Manzo batted 2-for-4 with three runs scored and a triple, Martinez, who had seven RBI in the series, was 2-for-4 with a double, and catcher Matt Orozco, second baseman Ryan Lewis, and Jimenez each collected a pair of hits. Fryer was 1-for-4 with two RBI, and made a big defensive play in the seventh as he turned a double play by catching a fly out and gunning out a runner at home that prevented the Huskies from potentially cutting the lead to one.
On Tuesday, April 17, the Lancers open their series at Chaffey in a 2:30 p.m. first pitch.