GLENDALE — Glendale Community College Coach Chris Cicuto had his philosopher’s cap on when assessing the Vaqueros’ 5-2 Western State Conference South Division loss to College of the Canyons on Thursday.
“Anyone can play when you're winning,” Cicuto said. “It's when you're losing, how you battle through that.”
The loss, its second in a row and third in four games, dropped Glendale to 4-4 in conference play. This marks a tough stretch for the three-time defending conference champions, whose lineup featured five freshmen and four sophomores.
“We're going through some growing pains right now and you got to keep on pushing forward,” Cicuto said. “Our sophomores haven't been in this scenario, dealing with failure. They have to learn how to deal with failure. The wins and losses, there's no formula for it that says when you have to win games. You just have to get one game at a time.”
COC pitcher Joseph Cloney stymied Glendale for most of the game, scattering nine hits and limiting the damage.
“When we got in the counts we wanted to get into we didn’t capitalize” Cicuto said.
The Vaqueros did seem to have him figured out early on, though they failed to put runs on the board.
Dylan Trimarchi and Cam Silva led off the second inning with back-to-back singles, but Nick Padilla’s bunt was easily fielded by COC first baseman Roberto Ramos, who forced Trimarchi out at third. Cloney got the next two batters out to end the threat.
Glendale put the pressure on COC again in the third. Raul Camas and Jay Sheeley hit another pair of back-to-back singles with two outs. But Camas took too big of a lead at second base and was picked off for the third out.
Cicuto had no qualms with the Vaqueros’ aggressive strategy early.
“We tried to go for a push bunt,” Cicuto said of Padilla’s attempt in the second. “The baseball rule is bunt the ball on the third base side. We went opposite side, thought we'd get a ball through that hole. We were playing for a big inning, playing aggressive which is fine.”
COC struck first in the top of the fourth. Glendale pitcher Angel Rodriguez gave up a leadoff double to David Oppenheim, who then advanced to third on a balk. David Freyre sent a shot to center field, which Sheeley came inches from catching. The umpire ruled the ball hit the ground and Oppenheim scored easily.
Canyons came back in the sixth with a pair of insurance runs. Oppenheim and Ramos laced nearly identical triples down the first-base line to lead things off and Chris Devery brought Ramos home with an RBI single up the middle.
Rodriguez pitched into the ninth, but was removed after failing to record an out in the final inning and allowing singles to Devery and Justin Russell. He finished with seven strikeouts and allowed 11 hits.
“Angel pitched well. They had a couple triples down the line and two or three inches here or there who knows what the outcome is,” Cicuto said. “Angel did an outstanding job for us.”
Rodriguez was also credited with two earned runs for the baserunners reliever Nick Shur inherited in the ninth. Shur gave up singles to JD Krauskopf and Austin Cole.
Glendale wasn’t without its opportunities in the later innings. The hosts scored a run in the seventh and ninth inning, but ended each frame with a runner on base.
Cicuto credited Cloney.
“Their guy made great pitches when he had to make pitches,” Cicuto said. “I thought some of our hitters were undisciplined, especially later when we were trying to have a chance to get him on the ropes.”
Padilla hit a seventh-inning double and pinch-hitter Jack Sheeley brought him home with a two-out single. Padilla doubled again in the ninth to score Silva, who got on base with a walk and stole second.