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Successful season ends too soon for Glendale college baseball

WALNUT — Success has become a standard for the Glendale Community College baseball team.

That's what happens when you win six Western State Conference titles in a span of eight years.

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Alas, for Vaqueros skipper Chris Cicuto, he was expecting a little more success following an 8-5 season-ending loss to Mount San Antonio on Saturday afternoon in the Super Regional at Mt. SAC.

Glendale (30-15), the WSC East champion, was swept in the best-of-three series by Mt. SAC (33-11), the South Coast Conference North titlist, including a 5-4 defeat in game one on Friday.

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"It was a successful season, but I really thought we had an opportunity of going a little further," Cicuto said. "This is really frustrating and disheartening the last two days."

In the series opener Friday at Mt. SAC, Glendale put together a four-run fourth inning for a 4-1 lead, but the Mounties rallied back, culminating with a three-run bottom of the ninth to walk off with a win.

Back at Mt. SAC on Saturday (with Glendale as the designated home team), the Vaqueros used another big inning to grab a lead as a three-run third built a 4-1 cushion, which was seemingly an unlucky advantage for GCC.

Mt. SAC scored twice in the sixth ahead of a four-run seventh that added up to a 7-4 lead and a game – and season – altering turn for Glendale.

"When Mt. SAC got the momentum, they used it and we couldn't stop it," Cicuto said. "I tip my cap to them. They made some adjustments on how they pitched us."

The Mounties added another run in the top of the ninth before the Vaqueros' last gasp saw them score a run and bring the tying run to the plate with two outs and runners on the corners, but it was not to be.

Glendale's offense went cold on the scoreboard after the third despite posting 10 hits on the day, while Mt. SAC, which had 15 hits, heated up as it got to the bullpen and capitalized on a pair of popups that fell in for hits, but Cicuto believed were plays that should've been made.

"I thought there were a ton of mental mistakes," Cicuto said.

Tom Tabak (run, run batted in), Jacob Gribbin (run) and Brandon Lewis had two hits each for the Vaqueros, while ace Chris Davidson pitched admirably a week removed from a phenomenal effort to defeat Pasadena. Davidson, who threw a complete game to defeat Pasadena in game two of the first-round series and then came back later the same day to close out the game-three win, started Saturday and went 5 2/3 innings with nine hits, three runs and two walks allowed, while striking out five.

"I couldn't be prouder of Chris Davidson," Cicuto said. "He's really given his heart and soul to this team this past year."

But as the Mounties began to get to Davidson, the Vaqueros' pen couldn't stop the bleeding. Four GCC relievers combined to give up five runs on six hits and two walks.

"You go into the bullpen, you expect them to throw strikes," Cicuto said.

Glendale grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second when Konner Plotto singled in Lucas Sakay, but Mt. SAC, which swept Santa Barbara in the first round, tied it in the top of the third.

A three-run third followed for the Vaqueros as Tabak singled to score Troy Viola and Gribbin, who came around on an error on the play. Jake Selco brought in Tabak on a sacrifice fly.

The fourth and fifth innings were scoreless before the game changed for good in the sixth with Mt. SAC scoring a pair of runs to draw within 4-3.

In the seventh, a one-out double was followed by a walk and a hit by pitch to put Mounties on every base and then a bases-loaded walk tied the game. Two singles and a passed ball equated to three more runs.

The Mounties scored off another hit by pitch and follow-up single in the top of the ninth.

Void of momentum and short of chances, Glendale made its final stand in the bottom of the ninth.

Sakay was hit by a pitch to start and Lewis hit a one-out double to put runners on second and third. Mitchell Rathbun pinch-hit a sacrifice fly to score Sakay, but Mt. SAC side-armer Steven Ordorica was able to coax a game-ending strikeout for a two-inning save.

"We fought, we fought hard," Cicuto said. "We did show character, that's for darn sure."

Mt. SAC's Matt Garcia pitched four scoreless innings of middle relief for the Mounties, allowing one hit and quelling the GCC bats. Also telling was that Glendale, which leads the state with 131 stolen bases, did not swipe a bag on Saturday.

"I hate to see our sophomores go out like this, but they'll be on to bigger and better things," said Cicuto, whose Vaqueros advanced past the first round of the postseason for the first time since 2015. "It was a successful season, though, I just thought we could've done more."

Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon

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