Patrick Pena hurled seven strong innings for his school-record ninth mound win and reliever Frank Gonzalez closed for the save with two perfect frames as the #15 seed Pasadena City College baseball downed #18 Citrus, 3-1, Tuesday in a SoCal Regional Play-In Round game at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field.
Pena (9-3 overall) did not allow an earned run, scattering eight hits, walking one and striking out three batters. He lowered his ERA to 2.55. Gonzalez lowered his team-leading ERA to 2.20 as he struck out two and picked up his third save.
The Lancers (25-13 overall) scored all of their runs in the bottom of the first. Singles by South Coast Conference North Co-MVP and centerfielder Gabriel Arellano and third baseman Marco Martinez were followed by them both moving into scoring position (second and third) on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Ryan Lewis. With two outs, leftfielder Edward Manzo hit a bouncer to the Owls shortstop who booted it, scoring Martinez.
After PCC loaded the bases on a walk to rightfielder Shane Ogata, designated hitter Wyatt Coates then lined a single to right just out of the reach of diving Citrus rightfielder Ethan Cummins. Coates hit drove in two runs and gave the Lancers a 3-0 lead.
Citrus (19-20-1) received stellar pitching from relievers Mario Castro (two no-hit innings) and lefty Samuel Gomez, who fired four shutout innings, allowing four hits and collecting six Ks.
Arellano batted 2-for-3 and twice was intentionally walked by the Owls. Second baseman Andrew Scannell was 2-for-3 with a bunt single and Martinez hit 2-for-5. Ogata had his streak of reaching base safely end at 12 straight plate appearances when he was struck out in the fifth inning. However, Ogata reached base three out his four at-bats, twice being hit by a pitch and his walk.
Arellano upped his batting average to .401 and his 73 total hits (a school record) now officially leads the state.
In the seventh, Citrus scored its lone run on a 2-out RBI single to left by Thomas Chavez. Pena's most clutch inning was the fourth. After the Owls loaded the bases on two infield hits and a line single, Pena got out of the jam by retiring Tyler Kretschmar on a fly ball to shallow right and striking out Isaac Luevano.
The game's best defensive play was turned into by Manzo, who made a running, outstretched catch in left on a drive hit by Kretschmar to lead off the ninth.
Now, the Lancers advance to play at #2 seed El Camino College in a best-of-3-game, Round 1 series on Friday-Saturday, May 3-4. Pasadena was swept by ECC in their season series and the Warriors hold a 7-1 edge in their meetings going back to 2017. In '17, El Camino swept the Lancers in a Round 2 Super Regional series.
Coach McGee is now 4-4 in playoff games and 3-0 at home.