The Pasadena City College baseball team had two chances to grab complete control over its own destiny and all but clinch the 2019 South Coast Conference North Division title. But sure things on paper often never are sure things at all as the Lancers discovered with back-to-back, low-scoring losses to Mt. San Antonio on Thursday and Saturday.
After state No. 14-ranked PCC (20-11 overall) walloped the unranked Mounties, 17-4, in the opener of its 3-game series on April 9, Mt. SAC came back and posted a 3-0 win at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field on April 11 and then the Lancers bats went cold again in a 3-2 defeat at its rival in Walnut. The Lancers dropped out of first place in the division, lost their potential tiebreaker to the Mounties and have turned the conference back into a 3-team race with Chaffey back in the mix. Not only that, PCC could lose an automatic qualifier for the postseason if it fell to third place by regular season end.
Mt. SAC (18-16 overall) is in first with a 12-7 conference record, followed by PCC at 12-8 and Chaffey at 11-8. The Lancers have two games left in the SCC schedule v. Cerritos on April 23 (home) and 25 (road). In that final week of the conference season, Mt. SAC plays a 3-game series v. East Los Angeles while Chaffey faces last-place Rio Hondo in its final 3-game set. A number of scenarios can happen, but one that favors PCC is a sweep over Cerritos would insure that it would finish ahead of Chaffey, a team the Lancers swept a few weeks ago, thus insuring an automatic playoff seed.
Pasadena head coach Pat McGee reflected on how his team lost the 3-game series and its once firm grip on a SCC title.
"You have to give Mt. SAC credit. The Mounties were clearly the better coached team," he said. "They ran themselves into runs while we ran ourselves out of innings. They had competitive at bats with the game on the line and we did not. Defensively, they made plays under duress while our infield helped give away runs at the worst possible moments. That falls directly on my shoulders. I need to do better of getting these young men to rise to the occasion. That's what champions do."
In Saturday's defeat, Mt. SAC scored two runs in the first inning driven in a single by third baseman Albert Luevano. PCC bounced back in the fifth to tie it at 2-2. A passed ball scored rightfielder Frank Yokas, who had singled to open the frame, and leftfielder Edward Manzo ripped a RBI double for the other run. The Mounties then scored the game winner in the bottom of the sixth on another RBI single by Luevano off PCC starter and losing pitcher Lorenzo Llorens (5-2/3 innings, only four hits, three earned runs, two walks and three Ks).
The closest Pasadena came to tying it was in the seventh when centerfielder Gabriel Arellano (2-for-4) singled and stole second. With two outs, Mt. SAC reliever Steven Ordorica struck out Manzo to strand Arellano. Ordorica hurled three shutout innings for his fifth save.
The Mounties pitching staff was the story of the last two games. Mt. SAC threw a shutout for the third straight time v. PCC at Brookside (two shutouts last year as well). It was the first time in 30 games that the Lancers were blanked this year. Matt Garcia, the winning pitcher in relief on Saturday, fired three perfect innings for the save in this contest. Noah Woodall hurled six innings of 3-hit ball for the victory.
In defeat, PCC ace Gordon Ingebritson (5-2) pitched well (eight innings, eight hits, three runs), including working his way out of a bases-loaded, no out jam in the sixth when he struck out two batters that kept the deficit at 2-0 at that point.
Next week, the Lancers play four non-conference games as part of Spring Break week at PCC (not for athletics). Pasadena hosts its final two regular season games of the season on Tuesday, April 16 v. Santa Barbara City College (2:30 p.m start) and Victor Valley on Wednesday, April 17 at 2 p.m.