Defense A Difference In Baseball's Win Over VVC

Lancers shortstop Ryan Lewis makes the diving catch on this liner before it could reach the dirt on Wednesday, photo by Richard Quinton.
Lancers shortstop Ryan Lewis makes the diving catch on this liner before it could reach the dirt on Wednesday, photo by Richard Quinton.

The Pasadena City College baseball team used a number of sparkling defensive gems to end a 3-game losing streak Wednesday, rallying to beat Victor Valley, 8-7, at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field.

The state #18-ranked Lancers upped their overall record to 21-12 while the hard-hitting Rams, who collected 14 hits, fell to 12-22. PCC also ended a 4-game losing streak at its off-campus home diamond (11-6 overall).

Tied 7-7 in the bottom of the eighth, PCC third baseman Marco Martinez was hit by a pitch, advanced on a wild pitch on a strikeout, and moved to third on a groundout. With two outs, VVC pitcher Xavier Carpio bounced a curve that struck out first baseman Vic Zepeda, but hopped to the back stop allowing Martinez to score the game-winning run and Zepeda to reach first safely. 

Martinez came up big for the Lancers throughout the game as he belted a double in the first, but was robbed of a home run by Rams centerfielder Elian Ortega who leaped at the wall and kept the ball from leaving the yard despite not making the catch. Martinez would score on a Zepeda single for a 1-0 PCC lead. The hit snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak for the Lancers at JR Field. With PCC trailing 3-1 and bases loaded in the fourth, Martinez cleared the bases with a booming line drive double to center that regained the Lancers lead (4-3). Second baseman Jake Sanchez and centerfielder Gabriel Arellano added RBI singles in a 5-run frame.

Victor Valley scored four in the fifth to take a 7-6 lead only to see the Lancers tie it again thanks to a Rams, 2-out error on shortstop Ryan Lewis' grounder. 

But it would be the Pasadena defense that kept Victor Valley from scoring plenty of more runs. With two outs and a runner on third in the second inning, Martinez fielded a bunt by Ryan Peck and made a quick, off-balanced throw to Zepeda for the third out. With a runner on second in the fourth and VVC ahead 3-1, Hunter Santos hit a soft liner to the hole but Lewis made a diving catch, preventing a possible hit and another run (see game photo).

In the fifth, Lancers starting pitcher Matt Orozco spun and picked off Juan Casteneda at second base. Later in the inning, the Rams had runners on second and third and one out, but leftfielder Wyatt Coates speared what looked like a sure double off the bat of Brandon Rodriguez on a running outstretched grab. In the sixth, the Rams had runners on first and third and one out when reliever and winning pitcher Benny Olguin picked off Castaneda who was erased trying to get to second while the runner held at third. The next batter Sergio Rojas hit a hard smash off a hop headed to centerfield only to see Sanchez make the web gem of the game with a diving stop and gun out that ended the threat. 

Ahead 8-7 in the ninth, PCC's defense continued its big plays as this time catcher Cole Pilar erased Castaneda trying to steal second with a punch out to Lewis. After Rojas singled to put another tying runner on base, Olguin ended the game by catching a liner hit by Angel Cano and then doubled up Rojas off first. For Olguin (2-1), it was a great relief effort as he hurled four innings of 4-hit, shutout ball.

Overall, Martinez was 2-for-4 with his two doubles and three runs scored, Arellano went 3-for-4 with a double, Lewis hit 2-for-3 and two stolen bases, and both Zepeda and Sanchez batted 2-for-5. For Victor Valley, Mark Cobian hit two doubles.

PCC plays at Santa Barbara City College today (Thursday, April 18) at 2:30 p.m.