VALLEY GLEN — There is still hope for the Glendale Community College baseball team, but it is fleeting.
Much as the Vaqueros’ opportunities seemed to dissipate into the hot afternoon, Glendale’s chances to return to the postseason waned, as well, on Thursday following an 8-4 Western State Conference South Division loss to host Los Angeles Valley.
“Our chances are slim right now,” said Vaqueros Coach Chris Cicuto of making the playoffs. “Obviously, we didn’t help ourselves today.”
Heading into Thursday, Glendale (20-15, 13-7 in conference) was tied with College of the Canyons, but Canyons (18-16-1, 14-6) defeated Bakersfield, 6-1, while the Vaqueros struggled from the onset against Valley (16-20, 8-12), which is tucked away in sixth place.
Glendale, which had already had its string of three straight conference titles snapped when L.A. Mission clinched, is assured a finish no higher than second if it wins Friday at home against Valley and COC loses to Bakersfield, but Canyons owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. Therefore, GCC’s last hope is a bid based on ranking, but it came into Thursday at 19th in the latest California Community College Baseball Coaches Assn. Southern California poll and a loss to a team with a sub-.500 record certainly won’t do Glendale any favors.
“I don’t even really have words to describe how I’m feeling,” Cicuto said. “It’s very frustrating. It’s been a very frustrating year.”
Glendale trailed for most of the afternoon before it would get its only burst of offense in a four-run fifth to take a 4-2 lead. Valley answered right back with three runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 5-4 advantage and every Vaquero opportunity thereafter was squandered.
“This was really an ugly, ugly performance. Embarrassing,” Cicuto said. “Obviously, you’re playing for your playoff lives, you’d think you’d come out playing with a little more intensity and drive.”
In all, Glendale stranded 10 runners over the first six innings before sending the minimum to the plate over the last three innings with double plays ending the seventh inning and the game. GCC finished with six hits and seven walks during a hot, lengthy game that took roughly three and a half hours to play.
Four GCC pitchers combined to allow eight runs, nine hits, five walks and hit three batters.
And the Vaqueros’ defense committed four errors, with a passed ball thrown into the mix.
A two-out walk followed by a triple and a single put Valley ahead, 2-0, in the third.
The Vaqueros, having loaded the bases in the fourth only to come away with nothing, finally came alive offensively in the fifth.
Glendale, which has lost three of its last four following a four-game winning streak, got started when sophomore David Garcia drew a leadoff walk and sophomore Jack Sheeley reached on an error.
Garcia later scored on a Dylan Trimarchi groundout to cut the score to 2-1 with two outs. Sophomore Jay Sheeley (two hits, two walks) then singled up the middle to plate Jack Sheeley for a and tie the ballgame. After a wild pitch, freshman Raul Camas singled home Jay Sheeley for the go-ahead run.
A walk to freshman Nick Padilla and an infield single by Jonah Jarrard loaded the bases, but a walk by freshman Carlos Robles to score Camas was the only other run.
Trailing, 4-2, Valley responded immediately with a three-run fifth.
Glendale had the chance to do just the same when Jack Sheeley and Brent Sakurai flared back-to-back singles to center field to start the sixth. Sakurai advanced to second on a wild pitch and drew a throw from the catcher, but the second baseman bobbled the ball and Sheeley then lit out for home, but was thrown out.
The out and opportunity loomed even larger when Jack Sheeley and Camas drew two-out walks to load the bases. But Cicuto wasn’t ready to speak ill of a play in which his team showed some fire.
“We didn’t get a break on that. The ball bounces one foot the other way of the second baseman, we score,” Cicuto said. “At least we played aggressively on that.”
Valley tacked on another run in the seventh thanks to two hit batters, two walks, a passed ball and no hits. The Monarchs rounded out the scoring in the eighth with two unearned runs to salt away the game and, perhaps, the Vaqueros’ season.
“They made plays,” Cicuto said, “we didn’t; it’s that simple.”
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.