NORTHEAST GLENDALE — In a game that began as a pitchers' duel and sustained that identity for the better part of six innings, Thursday afternoon's Western State Conference Southern Division tilt was decided by a pair of big innings.
And host Glendale Community College's big inning was decidedly larger than Pierce's, as the Vaqueros exploded for seven runs in their half of the seventh en route to an 8-3 conference win over the Brahmas at Stengel Field.
"I think it was just one of those breaking-point innings and we came out on top," said GCC designated hitter Myles Neimeyer, who had two hits, scored a pair of runs and delivered a bases-loaded double for all three of his runs batted in during the critical seventh. "We just did the little things right all game."
With the win — which saw GCC bang out nine hits — the Vaqueros have now won three of their last four and evened their conference mark at 3-3 with an overall record of 12-7.
"We're just starting to come together as one team," Neimeyer said.
Though he didn't factor in the decision, GCC starter Thomas Korn, who brought a 3-0 record into the game, kept Pierce (9-9, 2-4 in conference) off the scoreboard for the first five innings before the Brahmas used three straight one-out, extra-base hits to plate two runs in the sixth to go ahead, 2-1. But that was as big an inning as the Brahmas could muster, as Korn stranded two on base to end the stanza.
Then, in the bottom of the seventh, the Vaqueros' previously bottled-up offense burst with four singles, Neimeyer's double, a walk and a hit batter to ultimately decide the game.
"That's huge as far as character's concerned," said GCC Coach Chris Cicuto, whose team began its year at 9-2, but went 2-5 to follow, including a four-game losing streak. "We just kept on plugging away, plugging away and good things ended up happening."
Korn was economical through the first five innings, tossing just 55 pitches, including an eight-pitch second inning and a five-pitch fifth. He danced through a spot of trouble in the fourth when he gave up a leadoff single and another runner reached on an error. But a diving catch by left fielder Chris Stroh, one in which he completely extended himself, ended the inning and kept Glendale ahead, 1-0.
Stroh had been similarly robbed in the bottom of the second when he cranked a lined shot to center. Still, the Vaqueros drew first blood in the inning after Neimeyer reached on an error in front of Matt McCallister reaching on a two-base error. With runners on second and third, Josh Caneles put down a perfect suicide-squeeze bunt that scored Neimeyer.
"Just fundamentals getting it done," Neimeyer said. "We try and work on the little things every day."
Korn would finish his day with six innings pitched, two earned runs given up along with five hits, two walks and three strikeouts. His end came after a 35-pitch sixth in which the Brahmas put four runners on base — on a pair of doubles, a triple and walk — equaling their previous output over five innings.
Trailing, 2-1, in the seventh, McCallister led off the seventh with a lined single to left. Canales then laid down a bunt single.
An out later, Scott Hong walked to load the bases. The second infield single of the inning came via Sean Spear, who had a pair of hits. Spear's hot shot up the middle was stopped by a diving play, but was good enough to bring home Canales and tie the game at 2. With the bases still loaded, Erik Suarez was hit by a pitch to usher in the go-ahead run in the form of Stroh, who had reached on a fielder's choice.
Sako Chapjian then singled in Hong before Spear scored on an error, upping the lead to 5-2.
Neimeyer delivered the biggest blow, however, lining a double to left that cleared the bases and brought the score to 8-2.
"Miles is awesome," Cicuto said. "He's done a great job for us."
Dean Johnson came on in relief to get the win for the Vaqs, pitching two innings and allowing a run, while JP Cohn closed it out with a scoreless ninth.
"If we can continue to be mentally stronger than other teams," Cicuto said, "I think [this is] what happens."