FRESNO - Ruben Garza drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the ninth inning while Creed Smith followed with an RBI-single as Sacramento City College broke a 4-4 tie with two key runs on its way to a 6-4 win over Orange Coast College in a first-round game at the California Community College Athletic Association Baseball State Championship Tournament at John Euless Ballpark on Saturday afternoon.
The win sends the Panthers (31-14) - the second seeds from the North - into Sunday's semifinals at 2 p.m. against the winner of Saturday's 6 p.m. matchup between Mt. San Antonio and San Joaquin Delta. The Pirates (33-14) will face the loser in an elimination game at 10 a.m.
Sacramento City rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to take a 4-3 after seven innings. However, the Pirates tied it in their half of the seventh on a homerun by Ramiro Velasco. Kevin Saenz started Sacramento City's rally in the ninth with a one-out double to left-centerfield. Walks to Joe McNamara and Brett Bello, sandwiched around a strikeout, put the bases full of Panthers.
Garza worked the count against Josh Berman before ball four sent him to first and delivered across the plate with the go-ahead run. McKinley LeFore relieved Berman and Smith greeted him with a liner to left to plate another. Bello was thrown out after rounding third and scrambling to get back to the bag.
Adam Erickson set Orange Coast down in order to pick up his eighth save of the year.
The Panthers had just three hits against Pirates starter Cameron Jabara who held them without a run. Orange Coast, meanwhile, was able to push through with single runs in the first and the fifth. The first came after an infield error allowed Skylar Limonchi to score from second while the second run came in the third when Velasco singled up the middle to plate Cody Kauhaahaa.
Bello got Sacramento City on the scoreboard after doubling to left, scoring Daniel Walsh. Saenz followed with an RBI-single to left to bring in Kody Gardner in the sixth inning to make it 3-2. Ruben Garza's sacrifice fly plated Saenz while Saenz did the same thing an inning later to bring in Jake Guenther, giving the Panthers their first lead.
Velasco's homer was his seventh of the year.
Lucas Reid (2-2) earned the win with two innings of work while Berman (2-3) took the loss. Saenz finished 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs score while Guenther and Bello each had two hits. Velasco went 3 for 3 with two RBIs for Orange Coast while Limonchi had a pair of hits.
(Mike Robles, CCCAA)