Head Coach Pat Mcgee stared into the trees behind the centerfield wall at Jackie Robinson Memorial Field as if they would provide him with solutions to his problems.
PCC dropped their fourth game in a row on Wednesday, leaving them with a measly .500 conference record, and a tampered spirit.
Coming into Wednesday’s contest against Citrus, Pasadena had given up 23 runs and only scored six over the past three games. Their relief pitching has been lit up for nine of those runs, leaving pitching coach Nico Calderaro with tough decisions and too few options.
“We’ve been off track lately. We haven’t been able to put guys away when we get ahead. Our pitchers put on way too many guys by giving them walks.” Calderaro admitted
The Lancers turned their hopes to Freshman, Patrick Pena Wednesday, to get Pasadena back on a winning track. While Pena dealt some wild pitches throughout his start, he gave Pasadena exactly what they were looking for: a chance to win the game.
“It’s been a bit of a rough season for me,” Pena said. “It felt good to come out here today and be as efficient as I was for the team. I’ve changed my throwing motion from over the top, to a three-fourths arm slot. It has really helped me be more effective and throw less balls.”
Pena went 4.2 innings, only allowing one run, and striking out four in his first conference start. He turned the ball over to the bullpen in the 5th, which got out of the inning, but struggled in the ensuing innings.
Nathan Garkow was able held down the fort until the seventh, when sloppy defense let two runs score. Two more relief pitchers tried to extinguish the fire, but Citrus tagged the late relief for five more runs, giving them an 8-3 lead going into the bottom of the 9th.
When the first two Lancers quickly stuck out, all hope for a comeback seemed lost. Even when Nico Martinez singled, the hit simply had the feel of prolonging the inevitable.
Even with a mountain to overcome, however, PCC did not quit. Two consecutive walks and an RBI single by John Bicos put the Lancers right back into the fray.
As Alex Jelloian stepped to the plate now only down by three, everyone in the Lancer dugout was on their feet. Jelloian hit a dribbler up the third base line. With the infield playing back and Jelloian’s speed, everyone watched closely as Citrus third baseman, Andre Flores barehanded the ball and threw to first.
After an agonizing delay, the umpire punched the air and loudly proclaimed Jelloian out. This prompted McGee to sprint to the first base umpire and give him an earful.
“I straight up told him that he was terrible,” Coach McGee said. “He should not be an umpire, especially at this level. Throughout the whole game he was missing calls, and I told him that.”
Even with how frustrated Mcgee was with the umpires, he knew that it was not entirely their fault, and held his team and himself responsible.
“We shouldn’t have been in that situation,” McGee said with a disappointed tone. “If we were competitive earlier then the umpire’s call wouldn’t have been an issue. I take 100 percent blame for this loss. I should have picked a better relief pitcher, and better pinch hitters. We have been playing terrible as of late, and I need to play better guys.”
The Lancers will have a short break for Easter, before playing a series against Long Beach on April 3 at Long Beach’s field.