GLENDALE — In one regard, Glendale Community College baseball’s five runs all coming with two outs showed how potentially clutch the Vaqueros can be.
But loading the bases twice and coming away without runs both times showcased the other end of the spectrum and ultimately proved crucial in the Vaqueros falling Thursday afternoon in a key Western State Conference South Division tilt to L.A. Mission, 6-5, in 10 innings at Stengel Field.
“Score one, it’s a completely different ball game,” said GCC Coach Chris Cicuto, whose team stranded 11 runners. “We didn’t execute the game very well.
“You strand that many, that’s the way it’s gonna be.”
Thursday’s game was crucial in the standings, as the Vaqueros (8-8, 3-2 in conference), who had a three-game winning streak snapped by a Mission squad that won its sixth in a row, fell into a third-place tie with Bakersfield. Mission (10-7, 4-0) stayed a half-game behind frontrunner College of the Canyons (5-0).
Nonetheless, with his Vaqueros having won three conference titles in a row, Cicuto is well aware there’s plenty of season still to play, despite a somewhat raucous celebration by Mission after the game.
“They’re throwing parties because we’ve clinched on their field,” said Cicuto in reference to his team having clinched the title in the past on Mission’s field. “Teams are gonna start beating up on each other [in the standings]. It’s the first time around [in the schedule].”
Trailing, 5-4, in the bottom of the sixth, the Vaqueros tied the game with a single to center field by Dylan Trimarchi to score Carlos Robles.
GCC had a chance to jump ahead in the eighth when it loaded the bases with one out after Trimarchi was intentionally walked. Three-hitter Jay Shelley lined a shot to center field on the subsequent at-bat, but the runner at third didn’t run back to the bag, nullifying any chance to tag up and an at-bat later the threat was quelled.
“At least go back,” Cicuto said. “But we didn’t have a shot to do anything on that play.”
A two-out single by Mission’s Joe Goring in the top of the 10th proved to be the game-winner, as it cashed in a leadoff walk.
“Just little mistakes added up and it’s just a perfect example of how it can cost you a game,” said Trimarchi, who was two for four with a run and a run batted in. “It was a battle. I thought it could’ve gone either way. It just wasn’t in our favor.”
The Vaqueros, whose nine hits were matched by Mission, jumped out in front to take a 2-0 lead when catcher Mark Strazzerri went to right field for a double to score Trimarchi and Sheeley in the bottom of the first. Strazzerri finished with a pair of doubles and three RBI.
“I thought we came out swinging the bats pretty well,” Trimarchi said.
But the production didn’t continue into the second, when Glendale squandered a golden opportunity with the bases loaded and no outs, but couldn’t get the ball out of the infield.
Mission chipped away with an unearned run in the third to cut the score to 2-1.
In the top of the fourth, Connor O’Brien doubled with the bases full to score three and vault the Eagles ahead, 4-2.
Glendale evened the score in the fifth thanks to a Strazzerri double that scored Sheeley, along with a bloop single to center field by Nick Padilla that brought Strazzerri around.
The tie score was short-lived, however, as Mission cashed in a walk, a single, an error and a wild pitch to go back ahead, 5-4, in the sixth.
Keaton Leach was dealt the loss for the Vaqueros, though he pitched well, throwing three innings of relief, striking out one, walking two and giving up just one hit, though it was the game-winner.
“He pitched pretty well,” Cicuto said. “It was the leadoff walk [in the 10th] and we missed location on that hit.”
Mission left-handed reliever Ryan McBride, however, shut down the Vaqueros, throwing two perfect innings to close the game, as the final 11 GCC batters went down in order.
For a Vaqueros team that’s experienced plenty of past success, there’s still no reason for panic.
“It’s early in the season; we’re still learning things,” Trimarchi said. “We have a lot of time and we have a lot of talent.”