COMMUNITY COLLEGE BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : Rancho Santiago Pounds Palomar, 17-2

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The first inning didn't give the slightest hint of what was to come from Rancho Santiago hitters. The Dons went down in order--including two strikeouts--in the first inning against Palomar.

Rancho Santiago then scored 11 runs in the second and went on to rout Palomar, 17-2, in a Southern California Regional playoff game Friday at Rancho Santiago.

Rancho Santiago had nine hits in the inning and 21 in the game. Rene Arias had a double and a triple and two RBIs in the second inning. Arias, a sophomore utility player, finished with four hits.

Tony Truel, Robin Lindsey, Steve Thobe and Derek Brown had three hits each for Rancho Santiago (27-12).

Brown started the onslaught in the second with a two-run single. Arias then doubled to the fence in left-center to score another run. Octavio Medina then bounced a two-run single over third base for a 5-0 lead.

Lindsey later had an RBI single and scored on an error to give Rancho Santiago a 7-0 lead. David Gonzalez had a two-run double to make it 9-0. Brown then doubled to drive in Gonzalez. Arias had a triple off the fence in left to drive in Brown with the 11th run of the inning.

Matt Taylor (6-6) allowed 11 runs, eight of them earned, and eight hits in 1 2/3 innings for Palomar (21-16-1).

Rancho Santiago got three more runs in the third when Aaron Butler had a sacrifice fly and Steve Thobe lined a two-run homer over the right-center field fence. It was his fourth home run this season.

The scoring burst was more than enough for Rancho Santiago's Mike Fontana, the Orange Empire Conference pitcher of the year.

He allowed six hits and two runs, one earned, in seven innings to improve to 12-0. He had 10 strikeouts and has 105 strikeouts in 111 2/3 innings this season.

"We definitely got the bounces today," Rancho Santiago Coach Don Sneddon said. "You give Fontana a lead like that and you like your odds (of winning). It was a great day for us but we need to win one more."

Rancho Santiago leads the best-of-three series, 1-0, and needs one more victory when the teams meet this morning at 11. J.J. Thobe (8-3) of Rancho Santiago and Chris Adams (6-2) are expected to start.

If Palomar wins the first game, a second will follow. The winner of the series will advance to second round May 15-17.

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