The Pasadena City College baseball team doesn't control its own destiny in a quest for a 2018 SoCal playoff spot. But after a 9-0 victory over Rio Hondo College on Tuesday combined with a Chaffey loss to Cerritos and an East Los Angeles defeat v. Mt. San Antonio, the Lancers chances improved to very hopeful.
Sophomore righthander Race Gardner fired a complete-game, 5-hit shutout as PCC reached the 20-win mark for the second straight season under head coach Pat McGee. Second place in the division grants an automatic bid for that team for the regional playoffs. Right now, East LA is 12-8, Chaffey 12-9 and PCC is 11-9. The Huskies and Lancers have two games left while the Panthers have one more against state No. 2-rated Cerritos on Thursday. State No. 5-ranked Mt. SAC clinched the SCC North title a year after Pasadena won its first-ever South Coast crown.
PCC continues its final conference series this Thursday, April 26 at Rio Hondo, then close the regular season on Friday, April 27 at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field v. the Roadrunners. Both games have 2:30 p.m. first pitch starts.
Gardner hurled the team's fourth shutout of the season and is the second Lancer to throw a complete game blanking, the other by Nathan Garkow v. Cerritos. You have to go back to 2007 the last time PCC had two pitchers throw CG shutouts. Gardner (5-1 record) walked just one batter, struck out five, and faced only six batters over the minimum.
The Lancers offense erupted for a season-high 15 hits (done four times this year), scoring four runs in the first inning. Hot-hitting Edward Manzo ripped a RBI double in the first and centerfielder John Bicos (2-for-4) added a 2-run double in the seventh. Manzo, the team's freshman leftfielder, batted 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI while letterman shortstop Jose Jimenez went 3-for-6 with a double.
Making his catcher's debut was redshirt freshman Daniel Netz, who not only caught Gardner's nine frames, but ripped a RBI double in the fourth and drew two walks. Frosh second baseman Ryan Lewis was 2-for-5 with two RBI and made two dazzling defensive gems, a diving stop and throw out to first in the seventh, and a leaping spear catch of a line drive in the fifth.
Manzo is 10-for-his-last-21 with nine RBI and his driven in runs in five straight games. He is batting .447 in conference with 20 of his team-leading 24 RBI in SCC-only games. Since the start of April, Manzo is hitting .442 (19-for-43), hitting safely in 10 of the 11 games with three triples and 12 RBI.