Baseball's Sweep Of Harbor Is Oh What A Relief

Ben Griffith picks up two saves in the Lancers 3-game sweep over Harbor (photo by Richard Quinton).
Ben Griffith picks up two saves in the Lancers 3-game sweep over Harbor (photo by Richard Quinton).

The SoCal #20-ranked Pasadena City College baseball team swept Los Angeles Harbor in its 3-game series this past week and did so receiving brilliant relief pitching from sophomore Ben Griffith and freshman Connor Campbell. The Lancers stretched their South Coast Conference win streak, now at five games.

In Saturday's 8-4 series finale victory at off-campus Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Field, Campbell closed things for winning pitcher Joe Bacon by hurling 2.2 innings of no-hit ball with five strikeouts for the save. Bacon (six innings, seven hits, three earned runs, four Ks) moved to 5-1 as he remains tied with Cerritos' Derek Valdez for the conference lead in mound wins.

Leftfielder Thomas Villanueva had a perfect afternoon at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI while centerfielder Tyler Garcia launched 2-run homer over the centerfield fence for insurance wins in the seventh after making a spectacular diving catch in the sixth. Villanueva lined a 2-run double in the team's 4-run, fourth inning that made it 6-1. The outfield contigent was completed by rightfielder Evan Coad, who batted 2-for-3 with a walk.

First baseman Adrian Roman kept his season-long, now 20-game hitting streak alive with a drag bunt single to third base in the third. He is now #2 in batting in the SCC at a .430 average.

PCC (12-8 overall) upped their SCC mark to 5-4, currently fourth in the confernce standings despite opening at 0-4. 

In the Lancers' 6-5 win at Harbor on Mar. 8, Griffith used a tightrope act to get out several jams as he scattered five hits over 2.2 innings for his third save of the season. In the seventh in relief of first reliever Aiden Nunez, he stranded the bases loaded in the seventh to preserve a 1-run lead. In the eighth, with runners on first and second, Garcia gunned out a runner at home plate to continue to preserve the 1-run lead. In the ninth, with tying run on third base, third baseman Jaden Guzman made a sliding catch in foul territory, then Griffith got the Seahawks' catcher Jacob Reffner to fly out to Garcia to cap the exciting, 1-run win.

Offensively, Villanueva hit a 2-RBI single in the first, designated hitter Evan Nahra was 2-for-3 and leftfielder Bryan Richman 2-for-5. PCC built a 6-1 after five innings before Harbor rallied. Starting pitcher Jameson Ferraro moved 3-2 with six strong innings of 7-hit ball (one earned run). 

In a 6-3, series-opening win at home on Mar. 5, PCC rallied with two runs in the seventh and four in the eighth to erase 2-0, then 3-2 deficits. Catcher Mark Manuel (2-for-4) hit a RBI single in the seventh and second baseman Ryan Ivanyi singled in the game-winning run, followed by RBI basehits by Richman (2-for-4) and Roman (3-for-5) in the eighth.

After lefty Ernesto Duenas pitched six innings (six hits, two runs, five strikeouts), Campbell pitched 2.1 innings (four hits, one run) to pick up the relief victory, then Griffith earned his second save with a scoreless ninth.  

"I can't say enough great things about the pitching this week," said PCC head coach Pat McGee. "The starters gave us an opportunity to win games and jump ahead, but the relievers in Ben and Connor were lights out! We need to contiue to grow offensively and I thing guys are getting better. We let Harbor off the hook a few times when we could have buried them. Fortunately, the pitching picked us up time and time again."

Villanueva has been impressive in the team's win streak. In the last six games, he is batting 14-for-23 (.609) with four doubles, a triple, and nine RBI. The freshman raised his average to .385, now fifth in the SCC. Richman is hitting .377 with a team-leading .505 on-base percentage while his 33 runs are #2 in the state. 

PCC plays defending SCC champion El Camino in a 3-game, conference series, beginning Tuesday, Mar. 12 in a 2 p.m. game at the Torrance campus.