Two years ago, Lancers rightfielder Shane Ogata caught the pennant fever on his way to helping the Pasadena City College baseball team end a 45-year drought in winning the South Coast Conference title. On Thursday, Ogata, a medical redshirt who missed the entire 2018 season, reached base five times and helped PCC capture the 2019 SCC North Division championship with a 9-3, regular-season ending victory at Cerritos.
In a two-game sweep over the Falcons, Ogata reached base in all 10 of his at-bats on five hits and five walks and he added two stolen bases in the finale. He is the lone PCC player in more than half century to have played on two SCC title teams under head coach Pat McGee, whose Lancers also punched their ticket to a third straight trip to the Southern California Regional Playoffs. It was a long, but fruitful day for PCC fans that started with an afternoon win in Norwalk that first clinched the team's playoff spot and ended later that evening with a celebration of a SCC crown when East Los Angeles blanked host Mt. San Antonio, 3-0.
That combination allowed PCC to finish 14-8 in conference and grab for now at least a share of the SCC crown over the Mounties, who are 13-8. Mt. SAC plays at ELAC Friday in their season finale. A Huskies win would give the Lancers the championship outright while a Mt. SAC win would result in co-titles for PCC and its Walnut rival. PCC closed the regular season at 24-13 overall as McGee's teams have a combined record of 73-48 (.603 winning percentage) from 2017 to the present.
PCC won four of its last five games, three in a row, and showed that it could win at home (12-6) and on the road (12-7). The team's .424 on-base percentage is the highest in the SoCal Region and sixth in the state. The Lancers are 11th in the state in team batting average (.310), tied for 10th in total runs scored (310), and 12th in ERA (3.29).
With records falling nearly every game of late, the last conference win resulted in two more records starting with centerfielder Gabriel Arellano, who shattered the school's hits record on Tuesday, breaking the runs scored record, now with 44 runs when he crossed the plate in the fourth inning on a Ryan Lewis a 2-RBI single. The old mark of 43 was set by Andres Kim in 2017. The second record was entered by Lancers sophomore pitcher Gordon Ingebritson, who collected his 13th career mound victory by firing seven innings of 6-hit ball with eight strikeouts. Ingebritson (6-3 this year), who is signed on to attend UC Irvine next season, has more career wins than any PCC pitcher in at least the modern era of post 1960.
Arellano, a freshman, is leading the state in total hits with 71 and raised his team-leading batting average to .397. His 179 official at bats also tops the state by 10 more than the next closest player. If he reaches seven at bats in the playoffs, he would break that school record of 185 set just last year by Jose Jimenez (now at Cal State Dominguez Hills).
The turnaround of a Lancers program that suffered through hard times prior to McGee's arrival here in 2015 is all the more remarkable considering that the Lancers are one of just a few colleges that play their home games and practice off campus at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.
"In all my years of coaching, I have never been around a team has had to deal with the amount of adversity, often well beyond their control, that these young men had to work through during the course of the season," McGee said late Friday night. "It's one thing to be talented, but to be determined, tough and relentless are hallmarks of a champion, the standard by which we measure our program. I am so proud of them and ecstatic that they earned every bit of this championship. Regardless of the setback, regardless of the challenge, they rose to the occasion time and time again."
Against Cerritos, the Lancers broke open a 0-0 game with four runs in the fourth and and four more in the fifth. Arellano started things with a 2-run single up the middle in the fourth and ended the explosion with a RBI single through the left side in the fifth. Third baseman Marco Martinez added two sacrifice flies and upped his PCC school record for walks with one free pass to give him 35 on the season. A .338 hitter, the freshman Martinez has a team-leading 37 RBI and his .500 on-base percentage is 11th in the state.