With the job half completed, the Glendale Community College baseball team isn’t reflecting on its recent successful postseason accomplishments.
There are still two more obstacles for the Vaqueros to navigate in their quest to win the program’s first California Community College Athletic Assn. state championship.
The first hurdle will begin Friday, when fourth-seeded Glendale travels to face No. 2 El Camino in an opening game of a best-of-three series in the Southern California Sectionals. The second contest will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday and a winner-take-all game would be played Sunday at a time to be determined.
Glendale (30-15) enters the sectionals after defeating No. 13 Santa Barbara in the regionals and No. 7 San Diego Mesa in the super regionals. Glendale beat San Diego Mesa, 8-7 and 12-3, last week to advance past the second round for the first time since 2011, when it made its inaugural appearance in the state tournament.
“We’re not in a reflective mood,” said Glendale interim coach Alex Kocol, who guided Glendale to the Western State Conference East Division championship. “We’re one of the last eight teams standing and all of the teams are very good. There are no easy teams.
“El Camino has a very good team and we have one, too. It will be a great match-up for sure and we’re excited.”
Glendale infielder Christian Muro, a St. Francis High product, had four hits, three runs batted in and scored two runs to help Glendale wrap up the series against San Diego Mesa on Friday.
“It’s just been an amazing ride and we just want to keep on playing,” Muro said. “It’s always interesting to see how you handle all of the different kinds of situations and how you can bounce back.
“We had to win the last two games to beat Santa Barbara and we got a walk-off win [in the first game against San Diego Mesa]. It will be another fun series.”
The Vaqueros are led by freshman utility Trent MacKinney, who is batting .447 with four home runs and 30 runs batted in, and freshman infielder Hans Seo (10 home runs and 27 RBI). On the mound, sophomore starting pitcher Dexter Wilkerson is 11-2 with a 3.13 earned-run average. The sophomore right-hander came on in relief Friday, going five inning to get the win.
El Camino, which won the South Coast Conference South Division title, started the playoffs by sweeping No. 15 Pasadena in the regionals before rallying to top No. 11 Cypress in the super regionals.
The Warriors encountered a dramatic moment in the winner-take-all game against Cypress on Saturday. El Camino held a 6-3 lead entering the ninth inning. Cypress scored four runs in the ninth to take a 7-6 lead. However, a two-run home run by Spencer Long gave El Camino an 8-7 walk-off win that catapulted the Warriors to the sectionals.
“That was a pretty emotional game for them,” Kocol said. “Every team has a script or narrative in these playoffs.
“I think we have enough talent and we have a pretty good idea of what we need to do to be successful.”
El Camino has been paced by sophomore outfielder Joseph Borges, who is hitting .344 with 38 RBI and sophomore first baseman Spencer Palmer (.338 with 35 RBI). El Camino boasts a 1-2 punch in the starting rotation of freshmen right-handers Jimmy Galicia and Aaron Orozco. Galicia is 11-2 with a 1.68 ERA and Orozco is 11-1 with a 2.02 ERA.
The other series in Southern California will pit No. 1 Orange Coast (33-8-1) against No. 8 Mount San Antonio College (26-18).
The Northern California Sections will feature No. 1 San Joaquin Delta (37-7) versus No. 8 Los Medanos (28-17) and No. 4 Sacramento City (32-12) against No. 5 Ohlone (36-10).
The state championship will take place May 25-27 at Fresno City College.