Catcher Is Pilar Of Strength For State #16 Baseball

Cole Pillar has been a strong hitter and defender as the Lancers starting catcher this season, photo by Richard Quinton.
Cole Pillar has been a strong hitter and defender as the Lancers starting catcher this season, photo by Richard Quinton.

Fresh off a 3-game sweep over Chaffey College, the Pasadena City College baseball team learned this morning it is at #16 on this week's CCCSIA State Top 20 Rankings. On Monday, the Lancers brought out the brooms and rallied to beat the host Panthers, 8-5, thanks to clutch hitting by catcher Cole Pilar.

A sophomore transfer, Pilar is on a hitting tear, 17-for-32 (since March 5) and raised his team-leading batting average to .420. He batted 4-for-6, including RBI singles in the sixth and seventh innings, then a run-scoring double in the ninth. He finished with four RBI as he started the day by doubling in a run in the third inning. PCC trailed 5-3 after five, but came back with two runs in both the sixth and seventh frames. Pilar, who is presently ninth in the state in batting, is second in California in on-base percentage at a staggering .556 clip.

Pilar's defense has also been very strong as he has gunned out nine runners trying to steal and has a .981 fielding percentage.

The Lancers are 15-7 overall and now 7-4 in the South Coast Conference North Division, trailing first-place (and unranked) Mt. San Antonio (15-11, 9-2) by two games. The top two spots in the conference receive automatic berths to the SoCal Playoffs. PCC is trying to make the postseason for the third consecutive season under head coach Pat McGee, who turned the program's fortunes around when he was hired for the 2015 season.

Third baseman Marco Martinez was 2-for-3 with three walks. Martinez, a freshman, raised his average to .385 and is seventh in the state in OBP at .534. Pillar and Martinez each have drawn 19 walks. Letterman leftfielder Edward Manzo went 3-for-5 while shortstop Jake Sanchez, who has been playing regularly since an injury to starter Ryan Lewis earlier this month, was 1-for-2 with a double and two walks. Centerfielder Gabriel Arellano stole home in the sixth inning, but after his hot hitting over the first 19 games, has cooled off with his average dropping to .396.

PCC once again received a sterling pitching performance. This time it was letterman reliever Frank Gonzalez, who hurled four innings of 3-hit shutout ball to earn his first win. He lowered his ERA to 0.84 in 21-1/3 innings of work this year.

The Lancers begin a 3-game series today (Tuesday, Mar. 26) with a SCC North contest at Rio Hondo College. Game time is 2:30 p.m.