Subpar defense snowballs fast on Vaqs

BAKERSFIELD — In a game that featured 30 combined runs, 25 combined hits, 13 combined pitchers, 11 combined walks and nearly four hours of baseball, the number that loomed largest for Glendale Community College was the eight errors that doomed it.

"That's not our club right there," said Vaqueros Coach Chris Cicuto after his team's 21-9 loss to San Joaquin Delta in the opening game of the California Community College Athletic Assn. State Championships on Friday afternoon at Bakersfield College. "I don't know who that was."

Earlier in the Vaqueros' 28-15 campaign, when qualifying for the CCCAA playoffs was still in question, fielding was at times an issue. But during GCC's current run through the regional and super regional rounds of the postseason, the Vaqueros have been solid and steady in the field, making just five errors over their first six playoff games.

That was hardly the case on Friday, though, and fielding was the chief reason that they will be playing at 10 a.m. in a losers-bracket elimination game.

"Errors, at this level, guys will expose you," Cicuto said.

And eight errors were more than enough to bury the Vaqueros under the weight of an insurmountable lead. GCC gave up eight unearned runs, including six of the first seven, as it fell behind, 7-0, in the fourth inning.

"We capitalized," said Delta Coach Reed Peters, whose team was the No. 1 seed out of Northern California playing Southern California No. 2 GCC.

Oddly enough perhaps, Glendale actually showed off some better-than-average fielding, too, as Chris Stroh showcased some stellar range in left field, the Vaqueros picked off a Mustangs runner and catcher Erik Suarez had three assists, throwing out two would-be base stealers and throwing out a runner trying to take an extra base on a relay throw.

However, for the most part, the ripple effect for the Vaqueros was a bad one.

"It kinda snowballed on us a little bit," said Cicuto, whose team allowed multiple runs in every inning from the third to the last.

Using six relief pitchers — many of them having thrown sparse innings in recent games — the Vaqueros walked five batters in relief and hit three more.

Vaqueros fielders committed errors in the third, fourth, fifth and eighth innings via more than half their starters.

"When you have an error that gets guys on base, guys get tight and then you get more errors," GCC first baseman Ellis Whitman said.

Though slowed at the start, the Vaqueros' offense was one positive as, though it came too late, it came steadily with them scoring multiple runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings.

"Offensively, I thought we did a really good job," Cicuto said.

And though the team's performance in the field was uncharacteristic, the fight it displayed in trying to come back even when behind by a large deficit has been a characteristic showcased through the postseason.

If the Vaqueros are to fend off elimination and fight into Sunday's championship game, more than likely, it's a characteristic they'll have to show in a big way today.

"We've had a lot of things go our way and we knew eventually they wouldn't," Whitman said. "We just gotta come back [today] and battle through that."

In Cicuto's mind, there is simply no other recourse.

"We'll definitely bounce back," he said. "We're obviously down, but this is baseball — you bounce back. That's the only choice we have."

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