GLENDALE — Despite having at least one man aboard in all five of his innings pitched and runners in scoring position in the first four, Glendale Community College starting pitcher Dexter Wilkerson kept a tight lid on Antelope Valley's scoring opportunities.
Though Wilkerson received only marginal run support over the first half of Saturday's Western State Conference East Division matinee at Stengel Field, it didn't take long for the Vaqueros' red-hot bats to reward his string of zeros with some crooked numbers en route to a 17-0 walkover.
Center fielder Jacob Gribbin went three for four with a two-run home run, finishing a triple shy of the cycle, and Lukas Sakay belted a three-run bomb to cap a game-changing bottom of the fifth.
That's where the Vaqueros struck for six runs to send Wilkerson to the dugout with an 8-0 lead before Sean Kretz and Cameron Gaskill tossed two innings apiece to finish off the shutout.
"It was only a matter of time; they were throwing all fastballs and we're a good fastball hitting team," Gribbin said. "We just sat there and put some good swings on it."
Saturday's game finished off a week in which the Vaqueros pounded out 40 runs over the course of sweeping the three-game series with the Marauders and kept their conference lead over College of the Canyons at two games with six games left in the regular season.
Glendale (24-10, 13-1 in conference) begins a three-game series with Canyons on Tuesday.
"It's good to take the momentum into next week," Vaqueros coach Chris Cicuto said. "It's going to be a dogfight."
Wilkerson found himself in hot water right way, loading the bases with one out in the first inning on a pair of walks sandwiched around a double by Ethan Avant. He struck out Blake Leidholdt for the second out but had to make a difficult play on Trevor Morrison's high-bouncing chopper over the mound to escape with a clean frame.
Antelope Valley (15-19, 3-11) put a couple more men on base in the top of the second, but Wilkerson wriggled out of a two-out, first-and-second jam by inducing a grounder to shortstop from Avant.
Konner Piotto walked to lead off what seemed to be a promising bottom of the second for Glendale. He was soon joined on the base paths by Tom Tabak and Franky Regalado, who each singled, but the only run the Vaqueros scored in the inning came on a fielder's choice groundout by Jake Selco that was very nearly an inning-ending double play.
With a 1-0 lead, Wilkerson continued to flirt with danger in the third. He weathered a two-out rally — a walk and double to put a pair of runners in scoring position — by fanning John Reyes.
The Vaqueros increased the right-hander's margin for error slightly with another run in the bottom of the third. This one came courtesy of an opposite-field single to right from Gribbin that scored Mitchell Rathbun, who singled to lead off the inning before moving up two bases on a groundout and a steal of third.
Wilkerson (eight strikeouts) settled down in the fourth to record two quick outs before the frame was extended by a throwing error on a ball hit by Kyle Lathrop deep in the hole to shortstop. Lathrop moved into scoring position on an errant pickoff attempt by Wilkerson but was eventually stranded.
In the top of the fifth, Wilkerson benefited from a stellar diving grab of a line drive smoked between second and third by third baseman Troy Viola for the final out with a runner on first.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Vaqueros began to take some of the tension out of the game when Viola and Tabak (two for four) came up with back-to-back singles with the bases loaded.
Viola's grounder found its way through the left side of the infield to plate Brandon Lewis before Tabak's knock bled through the right side to drive in Gribbin and Piotto for a 5-0 lead. Sakay immediately followed with his long ball.
"Offensively we did what we had to do," Cicuto said. "We were kind of sleepwalking the first couple innings."