Pasadena baseball bested No. 15 Chaffey College two out of three in a series last week to tie for first place in the SCC Northern Division.
The Lancers (14-9, 6-5) started the series in second place, one game behind the division leaders. After two big victories against the Panthers, Pasadena is now in a three-way tie with Chaffey and Rio Hondo for first place.
Pasadena came into Lowder field fired up and took the lead early in Thursday’s game when star hitter Jeremy Conant brought in Andres Kim on a grounded out to second base. The Lancers scored again in the second inning and another four runs in the fourth to win the game 6-1.
Pasadena’s solid defense completed four double plays on the day, but it was starting pitcher Race Gardner’s dominance on the mound that proved to be the driving force behind the Lancers victory over the division’s top team.
Gardner got started when he breezed by the top of Chaffey’s lineup, needing only seven pitches to end the first inning. Using his entire arsenal of pitches, Gardner kept Chaffey hitters frustrated and off balance the entire game.
Aside from a few walks, Gardner limited the number of Panthers to get on base and had no-hitter intact through the first seven innings. It was Panthers right fielder Jordan Hernandez who ended Gardner’s no-hit quest in the 8th inning with a single.
“I made some good pitches but I also made a lot of mistakes,” said Gardner. “Fortunately our defense is so good. They were great and helped us get out of [high] pressure situations.”
The victory improves the Lancers ace’s record to (3-2) while lowering his ERA to 3.20 in 7 ? innings. In addition to giving up no runs and allowing only one hit while striking out six.
However, it was center fielder John Bicos who came up huge for PCC offensively, going three for five with a run scored and 2 RBI’s. He also contributed with his glove, making two spectacular catches.
“We definitely made some great plays out there today,” said Bicos. “We just tried to back up our pitcher and keep it simple, he threw strikes and we made plays.”
On Saturday the series shifted back to Brookside Park for the completion of game one that had been shortened due to rain, followed by the regularly scheduled third game of the series.
Before Tuesday’s game was halted, the Lancers were up 7-0 after three innings and when the game was resumed came up with an 11-1 victory.
Through the first two games, the Lancers pitching staff allowed only five hits and two runs while the offense put up a staggering 18 combined runs against one of the conference’s top teams.
“It started with the tempo on the mound,” said head coach Pat McGee. “We know what’s at stake, we have to put pressure on whoever we play and we did that very effectively.”
The victory was credited to pitcher McElligott, his first of the season. The win was also the team’s 14th victory, eclipsing the previous season’s wins for the third straight year for head coach McGee’s program.
The final game of the series was a different story for the Lancers who continued to generate runs but had an usually sloppy defensive effort that helped Chaffey avoid the sweep.
The game was tied 8-8 in the top of the ninth inning and pitcher John Mendoza was on the mound for the Lancers when Chaffey second baseman Marcos Hernandez doubled to deep left field for the winning run.