Vaqueros on the brink

COSTA MESA — A lack of clutch hitting was nothing the Glendale Community College baseball team couldn't overcome a week ago in its postseason-opening series.

It was a feat the Vaqueros couldn't replicate Friday in a 7-2 loss to Mt. San Antonio College after they batted one for 13 with runners in scoring position in the opening game of the California Community College Athletic Assn's Super Regional tournament at Orange Coast College.

Glendale Coach Chris Cicuto credited the offensive struggles to Mounties (31-8) starting pitcher Taylor Jimenez, who gave up seven of GCC's 10 hits, but only allowed one earned run with three walks, a hit batter and eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.

"[Jimenez] made some pitches and obviously we need to at least have contact [with runners in scoring position] — we can't punch out," Cicuto said. "Like I told the guys today, I would be concerned if we didn't have any shot. We had the bases loaded twice and [Jimenez] made some good pitches and that's the way it goes sometimes."

Glendale (27-11) first loaded the bases with one out in the top of the second on two walks sandwiched between a Ruben Padilla (two for four) double and strikeout.

GCC was kept off the board, though as Mt. SAC shortstop Richard Rollice leaped and snagged Robert De Santiago's line drive out of the air and the Vaqueros' next batter struck out.

The Mounties capitalized on the momentum, as they took a 2-0 lead with three hits and two balks in their half of the second, as Josh Surdo and Aaron Orona singled and doubled in a run, respectively.

"You get a bases-loaded situation and get two outs that's obviously a lot of momentum for them," Cicuto said. "We've got to stop them. If we come back with a zero spot we can come back with a little more confidence. We just have to bounce back."

Glendale couldn't bounce back in the top of the third, despite loading the bases with no outs, as three straight strikeouts ended the threat.

The Vaqueros will have to rebound in the Super Regionals loser's bracket today, as they take on Cypress College (24-15) at Golden West College at 10 a.m.

A victory will put GCC in a game against the winner of today's Orange Coast College and Mt. SAC game at 11 a.m. a half an hour after it concludes at Orange Coast. A loss in either game will end GCC's season in the double-elimination tournament.

"We are going to see a competitive pitcher tomorrow and Cypress is a good team," Cicuto said. "Honestly, I would love to see Mt. SAC again and we could have that opportunity to come back and get a victory tomorrow, come back here and face these guys again."

Mt. SAC, which got 11 hits and its leadoff runner on in five of eight innings, put up two more runs in the third on two hits, an error and two walks, as Orona picked up another run batted in with a bases-loaded walk.

"There were obviously good things [today], but the score doesn't dictate that," Cicuto said. "We gave up too many lead-off runners. They executed the game with the bunt and got a hit when they needed a hit. They flat out outperformed us today."

Dwight Tardy pushed the Mounties' lead to 5-0 with a RBI single in the bottom of the fourth before the Vaqueros got on the board in the top of the fifth on an Edgar Montes double, which scored Crescenta Valley graduate Chris Stroh (two for four), who singled his way aboard.

There was no comeback in the works, though, as Mt. SAC added to its lead with a two-run seventh on a Rollice RBI single and a Marco Flores sacrifice fly.

Matt McCallister capped the scoring in the top of the eighth when he tripled with a long fly to left field and scored on a throwing error that went in Glendale's dugout.

Cameron Gardner, Sergio Plasencia and Nick Bozeman each singled for the remaining hits belonging to the Vaqueros.

Cicuto isn't pressing the panic button, though.

"We are going to enjoy this," Cicuto said. "We've never made it easy on ourselves so why start now?"

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