Thirteen proves lucky for Glendale Community College baseball

GLENDALE — On the brink of elimination, the Glendale Community College baseball team was in need of a miracle.

What it received may have surpassed even those standards.

The Vaqueros erased a six-run deficit by sending 18 batters to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning while scoring 13 runs in a reversal of fortune that saw Glendale defeat Pasadena City College, 18-11, at Stengel Field in Saturday’s deciding third game of the California Community College Regional Playoffs.

The victory was the second of the day for the Western State Conference East Champion Vaqueros, who opened with a 9-4 victory that helped Glendale rally to a 2-1 series victory. With the win, Glendale earned a berth to next week’s Super Regional round.

“[Associate head coach Alex] Kocol has been so amazing for us and he told the guys yesterday that we had to get to the bullpen,” Glendale coach Chris Cicuto said. “We knew through scouting and during our homework that if we could get to their bullpen, we felt we could put up a bunch of runs.

“That eighth inning was amazing. There were errors and walks and in those innings you just have to relax and play it pitch by pitch. When we started to build the pressure, the game changed.”

Leadoff batter Thad Wilson (Glendale High) led the charge for the Vaqueros (30-13) by going three for five with a double, three runs scored, two runs batted in and a walk.

Third baseman Troy Viola finished two for four with two RBI and two runs and Jacob Gribbin added three hits, two runs and two RBI. Overall, every Glendale starter reached base at least two times.

Wilson and his teammates saw Pasadena score five runs on three hits and two errors in the top of the eighth to take an 11-5 advantage, the biggest for South Coast Conference North runner-up Pasadena (23-20) at any point in the three-game series.

Wilson led off the bottom of the eighth with a double into the right-center gap that kick-started an incredible rally as Glendale’s first 12 batters reached safely via three hits, six walks, two errors and one fielder’s choice squeeze bunt.

If there was a turning point it came when a chopper to second from catcher Konner Piotto (two runs) with the bases loaded and no outs was booted at second base. Instead of a potential double play, the Vaqueros were gifted two runs, at least one out and pulled within 11-9.

Glendale tied the contest at 11 when the inning’s ninth batter, Grant Mona, dropped a successful squeeze bunt that allowed Piotto to score.

Wilson was walked with the bases loaded to force in Lucas Sakay as the Vaqueros went ahead 12-11.

The first out of the inning came on a sacrifice fly from Tom Tabak that plated Wilson to give Glendale a 15-11 advantage, while Piotto scored Glendale’s final of 13 runs on a wild pitch from the final of five Pasadena pitchers in the inning.

The Lancers hurt themselves with eight walks, three wild pitches and two passed balls.

Just to prevent the possibility of one last Lancers’ rally, Glendale ace Chris Davidson pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close out the game.

Davidson was the starter in Glendale’s 9-4 victory in the opening contest Saturday against Pasadena and went the distance for the victory.

Davidson finished with 10 total innings pitched with four runs (three earned) on nine hits with nine strikeouts.

“I felt like I had a little bit of unfinished business from my first game,” Davidson said. “I saw that we were getting back into the game, we took the lead and then I thought I have to get into the game.”

Glendale needed to sweep two games Saturday after dropping the series opener, 3-2, to Pasadena on Friday.

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