Baseball Impresses In South Coast Conference Stat Leaderboard

Bryan Richman runs the bases during a recent game (photo by Richard Quinton).
Bryan Richman runs the bases during Saturday's home win (photo by Richard Quinton).

The Pasadena City College baseball team is 7-4 to begin the 2024 season, and while the squad gets ready for the start of South Coast Conference play next (weather permitting) the Lancers have a number of players who are at the top or near the top of the conference statistical leaders.

PCC completed a 3-1 week with a come-from-behind, 6-4 victory over Citrus on Saturday at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field. Lefty Ernesto Duenas tossed a brilliant 4-inning, no-hit performance (one walk) to earn his first collegiate win. 

First baseman Adrian Roman and catcher Mark Manuel each have hit safely in all 11 games this season. Leftfielder Bryan Richman has an 8-game hitting streak while shortstop Jack Esguerra is on a 6-game hit string and has driven in at least one RBI in each of the last five games. Esguerra, a sophomore, is on a torrid run at the plate, batting 14-for-24 with nine RBI and five multiple-hit games since Feb. 10. 

Remarkably, the Lancers have the three top batting leaders currently in the 9-team, SCC with Roman, who has eight multiple-hit games, at the top sporting a .489 average, followed by Esguerra at .425, and Manuel with a .419 clip (tied with Mt. San Antonio's Joel Gutierrez).

Roman leads the conference in hits with 22 and tops all SCC batters in on-base percentage at .564 with Manuel second at .554. Richman, a .357 hitter, is tied for the state lead in runs scored, crossing the plate 22 times and is tied for second in the conference in walks with 10. 

Duenas, tied for second in the state in saves with three, is the conference's WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) leader with an .88 percentage and second in ERA at 1.13 in 16 innings. Joe Bacon is tied for first in the SCC with three victories while Jameson Ferraro is third in the conference in ERA at 1.84 in 14.2 innings. 

In the Citrus win, PCC trailed 4-1 before scoring four runs in the seventh, keyed by a RBI basehit from centerfielder Thomas Villanueva. Manuel and third baseman Devin Munoz each drew bases-loaded walks, then Esguerra hit a sacrifice fly for the fourth run. Also in the inning, pinch hitter Tyler Garcia doubled down the left field line and Richman laid down a perfectly placed bunt single to third base. 

Richman and Roman were each 2-for-4 with a double. Connor Campbell (2-1) started the game on the mound and pitched five innings (six hits, four runs, three walks, four strikeouts) before Duenas took over. Duenas recorded 1-2-3 innings in the sixth, eighth and ninth. He faced just 13 batters and struck out two. 

"Ernesto completely changed the game's tempo," said PCC head coach Pat McGee. "He is a quick worker and throws strikes which is great for the defense. Because he's effective, it also has a positive effect on the offense and I think helped inspire our rally in the seventh."

On his four hot hitters, McGee said, "We've needed each of those guys to perform and to their credit they have been consistent run producers. Adrian and Mark are off to amazing starts to the season. Richman plays the game the way its supposed to be played, and does so many things well from hitting opposite field to bunting to being a smart base runner. Jack is an example of a guy who has bought in to our program as a 2-year starter. His improvement at the plate from freshman to sophomore is tremendous. I hope others can learn from what kind of work these four individuals put in to be successful."

McGee also mentioned Munoz, who is 5-for-9 in the past three games, as a player who has "stepped up for us" the past week.

The Lancers beat host West LA for the second time in three days by the exact same score, 13-2, on Thursday. In that victory, Bacon pitched eight outstanding innings, allowing just seven hits and one unearned run and did not allow a walk to improve to 3-0. 

PCC trailed though 1-0 after five inings before breaking it open by scoring eight runs in the sixth. Esguerra hit a 2-run single in the rally and finished 3-for-4 with a double and four RBI. Richman was 3-for-6 with two ribbies and Roman was 3-for-4 with three runs scored as he had two hits in the sixth alone. Manuel, Villanueva and Munoz all were 2-for-4 in a 14-hit attack. 

With rain in the forecast, PCC will see if it will start the SCC 24-game schedule this week as it is slated to begin with a 3-game series v. Long Beach City College. Check PCC's "X" Twitter at @PCCAthletics and the PCC baseball schedule page for updates as to when games will be played.

Ernesto Duenas fires a pitch in Saturday's victory