NORTHEAST GLENDALE — A collection of unfavorable calls, perhaps coupled with the sweltering heat Saturday afternoon, led to a smattering of boos by the Stengel Field crowd following the Glendale Community College baseball team's 6-5 Western State Conference South Division loss to Bakersfield.
One Vaqueros player, Anthony Cappiello, was ejected while inside the dugout in the fourth inning. Their coach disputed the call, along with other infractions, with the home-plate umpire. And then in the game's most important sequence, the same umpire ruled interference on a potential game-tying run by Glendale with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
With Ruben Padilla back at second base, rather than in the dugout with the score knotted, Bakersfield struck out Matt McCallister to end the game on a very sour note for the Vaqueros.
"You never want to put it on the umpire's shoulders," Glendale Coach Chris Cicuto said. "We had opportunities. I thought we pitched OK. John La did an unbelievable job in relief. Gave the ball to our closer. He missed a couple spots and they did a good job hitting the ball.
"But we showed a lot of character coming back from a 4-1 deficit against a really, really strong team. And that team is one of top teams in the conference, if not the state. So I tip my cap to them; that's a qualify win for them."
Twice, the Renegades closed out innings with the bases full of Vaqueros.
Yet Glendale (23-10, 14-5 in conference) seized the opportunity when it presented itself a third time.
Up to that point, Julian Jarrard and Cameron Gardner had forgettable outings, each going 0 for three. But the tandem knocked in consecutive doubles in the eighth inning, each driving in two runs, to take a 5-4 lead.
"It just shows that we have a lot of fight in us," Gardner said. "No matter if we're down two, three, four in the ninth inning, we're still going to give it our all."
Gardner's shot sent Bakersfield's left-fielder, Isaiah Turner, on a failed attempt at a diving catch.
But the Renegades (23-11, 11-8) returned the favor immediately, almost in identical fashion.
Bryan Haney's double in the top of the ninth resulted in another left-fielder, Glendale's Chris Stroh, diving and missing. He then tied it at 5 on a line drive by Mike Spingola.
After a walk nudged him up to second, Spingola scored the go-ahead run on a Turner single.
Padilla led off the bottom of the ninth with a full-count walk and then stole second. Then he tried stealing third.
An overthrow to third appeared to give Padilla a clear path home, but it was quickly negated when the home-plate umpire ruled that he himself had interfered with the catcher's throw to third.
Incensed, Cicuto argued the call as Padilla returned to second base. Glendale's five-game winning streak was snapped with two conference games remaining.
"I tip my cap to our guys for battling hard and staying confident," Cicuto said. "We just have to go one pitch at a time. We're still in first place, so we're in the driver's seat right now.
"Hopefully we get a good seed in the playoffs here. I think that caliber of game is good for us to kind of tune ourselves up and understand that's what we want to do."
Though striking out in the final at-bat of the game, McCallister finished two for five, scoring two runs and stroking a double.
Padilla went one for two with three walks. And Gardener (one for four) also had a walk, nearly turning that into a run in the fourth inning before colliding with Bakersfield's catcher.
In 4 1/3 innings, Glendale's David Lira struck out three and allowed five hits. He gave up three runs, two coming in the fifth inning as the Renegades took a 4-1 lead.
La, the relief pitcher, recorded four strikeouts and yielded three hits and walk.
"It's just one loss," Jarrard said. "We've been playing good and we just need to keep going. We have two games left, [we need to] try to win both of them. Right now we just have to take one game at a time."