Baseball Beats Merced And Weather In Home Opener

Lancers second baseman Nick Paschal ends up dropping the tag on a Merced baserunner on this caught-stealing throw by catcher Cole Pillar Sunday, photo by Richard Quinton.
Lancers second baseman Nick Paschal ends up dropping the tag on a Merced baserunner on this caught-stealing throw by catcher Cole Pillar Sunday, photo by Richard Quinton.

It took four rainouts until the Pasadena City College baseball team finally was able to play its home opener at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field in a rare Sunday contest against Northern California visitor Merced. Despite falling behind 2-0 after three innings, the Lancers batted around their order in both the fourth and fifth frames. PCC picked up a 9-4 victory as the rain this time only shortened the length of the game, called with Merced batting in the top of the seventh inning.

Pasadena improved to 4-3 overall and once again received a winning effort from starting pitcher Patrick Pena, who collected his third mound triumph, overcoming early wildness to finish five innings. Pena hit three batters and walked another in the first inning and gave up a 2-RBI single to left by lefty-hitting Daiya Katsu. The sophomore righty righted his ship and allowed only three hits and threw scoreless ball over his final four innings, including four of his five strikeouts. 

The Lancers offense was quiet against Merced starter Michael Juarez until it was Juarez's turn for wildness in the fourth. With one out, shortstop Ryan Lewis drew a walk, then rightfielder Shane Ogata was hit by a pitch. Designated hitter Austin Ruiz singled to left and first baseman Vic Zepeda following with a bloop hit to right center for PCC's first run. Third baseman Marco Martinez was next and he tied the game on a RBI single to left. The Merced bullpen followed with more control issues as both second baseman Nick Paschal and catcher Cole Pillar drew back-to-back RBI walks for a 4-2 lead. 

In the fifth, Lewis led off with a single, then Blue Devils reliever Joe Blair hit three straight Lancers, the last drilling Zepeda to bring in a run. Martinez and centerfielder Gabriel Arellano each ripped run-scoring singles as PCC built the lead to 9-2. 

Merced (4-5-1) scored single runs in the sixth and seventh, but after Sam Burns lined a RBI single to center that cut it to 9-4, the home umpire called the game due to hard rain with one out, and runners on first and second. 

The Lancers went from hustling to keep from losing a rain-shortened game to picking up the win just in time as a constant drizzle turned into heavy rain in the final inning. PCC head coach Pat McGee was glad to see his Lancers play at their long-time, off-campus home after a week of rainouts.

"It was great to be finally be on the home field for 2019," he said. "I'm proud of the kids for handling adversity that is beyond their control and finding a way through this to compete every day and game."

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, the Lancers continue their 7-game homestand as they host Oxnard College in a 2 p.m. first pitch.