Vaqueros in search of Super success

GLENDALE — Fresh off winning its opening-round series of the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. regional playoffs in thrilling fashion against Cypress College on Saturday, Glendale Community College's baseball team will next participate in the four-team CCCAA Southern Super Regional at Rio Hondo College in Whittier.

Sixth-seeded Glendale (25-14) will open against fourth-seeded Palomar (28-11) at 11 a.m. Friday, followed by top-seeded Rio Hondo (36-3) against 15th-seeded San Diego Southwestern (24-16). The double-elimination tournament will pick up Saturday and the championship contest will be Sunday.

The champion will advance to the CCCAA State Final Four, which will be held May 20-22 at Bakersfield College and will feature two Southern California and two Northern California Super Regional winners.

The Vaqueros, who captured the Western State Conference Southern Division championship for the first time since 2002, moved to the next round after they rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to dispatch Cypress on Saturday at Stengel Field. Chris Stroh had a game-winning double to complete the rally, which included an error by the Cypress shortstop that kept Glendale's bid alive.

"Obviously, it's huge any time you can come back," Vaqueros Coach Chris Cicuto said. "We have it in our minds that we can come back.

"We got some breaks [against Cypress], but now everything changes a bit as you advance. You are facing new teams and new pitchers."

Palomar won the Pacific Coast Conference championship before winning its two final games after losing the opening contest in its segment of the regional playoffs against East. L.A.

"We've been looking at their stats and charting their team with the information we have so far," Cicuto said. "They seem to have a lot of left-handed hitters and they don't hit a lot of home runs.

"They are more into hit and run. We will pitch to our strengths and make adjustments on the fly, if needed."

The Vaqueros, on the other hand, do have some pop. Sako Chapjian leads the Vaqueros with seven home runs.

Glendale first baseman Ellis Whitman said the Vaqueros are relishing the opportunity of moving on to unchartered territory.

"We are all excited because none of us have been here before," Whitman said. "On any given day, we can beat anybody.

"Things are definitely going to get a little harder. We never feel like we are out of anything. It's so important for us to just stick to our game plan and keep battling."

The Vaqueros lost three regular season meetings against Rio Hondo and did not face Southwestern. Rio Hondo won the Foothill Conference championship and Southwestern finished third in the Pacific Coast Conference.

In Santa Ana, the other Southern California super regional tournament will start Friday and will pit third-seeded Santa Ana against eighth-seeded Cerritos and fourth-seeded Orange Coast against seventh-seeded Santa Barbara. The Northern California super regionals will be held at Solano College in Fairfield and San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton and will run Friday through Sunday.

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