Tough Start To Conference Play for PCC Baseball

Letterman shortstop Jack Esguerra has been steady for the Lancers baseball team (photo by Richard Quinton).
Letterman shortstop Jack Esguerra has been steady for the Lancers baseball team (photo by Richard Quinton).

The Pasadena City College baseball team is in unfamiliar territory as it goes into week #2 of the South Coast Conference season. For the first time in eight years, the Lancers are 0-3 to start the conference season after being swept in its series by Long Beach CIty College last week.

The Lancers (7-7 overall) were tied 2-2 after nine innings in the SCC opener on Feb. 22, but the visiting Vikings struck for three runs in the 10th to down PCC, 5-2. LBCC (10-3) followed with a 16-9 win in game #2 on Friday (first two played at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field), then completed its sweep, defeating PCC, 10-3, in Saturday's finale.

In the opener, starter Jameson Ferraro pitched well, allowing just two runs on six hits with four strikeouts in eight innings of work. Shortstop Jack Esguerra continued his hitting tear, batting 3-for-5, third baseman Devin Munoz was 2-for-5 with a RBI and SCC-leading hitter Adrian Roman went 2-for-4 with a walk.

In the middle game, PCC trailed at one point, 13-1, but rallied with four runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and three in the eighth to make it respectable. Centerfielder Tyler Garcia hit 3-for-4, reserve leftfielder Joshua Sanchez was 2-for-3, scoring twice, second baseman Bryan Richman was 2-for-4 with a double and a sacrifice fly, designated hitter Mark Manuel went 2-for-5, and Roman was 1-for-4 with three RBI and a sac fly.

In the series road finale, LBCC's Xander McLaurin led off with a home run to trigger a 4-run, first inning, but PCC battled back with all three of its runs in the fourth. An Esguerra RBI single highlighted that rally.

But the Vikings scored six unanswered runs, two on James Provincio's 2-RBI triple in the fifth to pull away and complete their sweep.

The hot-hitting Roman was 3-for-5 with a double while Richman was 1-for-3 with a two walks and a RBI. A lefty-hitting first baseman, Roman has a 14-game hitting streak to open his collegiate career and his .483 average continues to top all conference batters. Roman leads the SCC in overall hits with 28, has14 RBI tops all PCC batters, and he is currently sixth in the state in batting.

Esguerra, the returning starting infielder, is batting .400 with 10 RBI (current 9-game hit string) while Manuel, a sophomore transfer catcher at a .362 clip, had his 13-game hitting streak stopped. The freshman Richman is hitting .352 (hit safely in 11 straight games) and his conference-leading 24 runs scored is now fourth in the state. Richamn's 12 walks and five stolen bases pace the squad. 

Sophomore tranfer Ferraro is 1-2 with a 1.99 ERA in 22.2 innings to lead PCC pitching staff while frosh southpaw reliever Ernesto Duenas is 1-1 with three saves and a 2.55 ERA in 17.2 innings. 

PCC looks for its first SCC win when it begins its 3-game series v. Rio Hondo this week, starting Tuesday, Feb. 27 in a 2 p.m. road contest