Pitching, timely defense and small ball were the deciding elements in City College baseball’s 2-0 win over the visiting Cabrillo College Seahawks on Tuesday night.
Lucas Reid, Matt Ornelas, Carlos Melero-Salaiz, Ben Purcell and Adam Erickson combined for nine shutout innings on a chilly evening at Union Stadium.
Ornelas, coming off of recent shoulder injuries, picked up the win in three relief innings. The 5-foot-10, 140-pound lefty took the ball in the fourth and promptly struck out the side—all looking—before recording six of his nine outs via strikeout.
“(Ornelas) was really sharp today,” said City head coach Derek Sullivan. “He’s a guy who was a big piece for us last year. He should be one of our main guys, and I think he really pitched like that today.”
In Reid’s first start of the season, the sophomore righty tossed three shutout innings, giving up only two hits while striking out two and walking none. Erickson picked up his third save of the year.
For throwing a shutout, Sullivan will treat his pitching staff to some rare batting practice this week.
“We’ve got to reward those guys,” said Sullivan after the game. “Our strength is our pitching. They carry us. They’ve been keeping us in games.”
Up 1-0 for the first five innings, the Panthers manufactured an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as Brodie Garner led the inning off with a single. After Garner stole second base, pinch-hitter Jack Scurfield bunted him over to third before Anthony Galati brought him home with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze.
Galati also prevented a potential Cabrillo rally in the top of the eighth inning from the outfield. Michael Hooper singled with one out, followed by a Kai Moody single to right field, driving Galati into the gap. As Moody tried stretching the single into a double, Galati gave a perfect throw to second base as Ruben Garza applied the tag on Moody for the second out of the inning while holding Hooper at third base. The next Cabrillo batter lined out to end the inning without any damage done.
“(Galati) was a really good bright spot for us today,” said Sullivan. “He’s a really good example of a guy who’s been working hard but hasn’t gotten a whole lot of chances lately. He’s showing us something. He’s the kind of guy that you keep trying to find opportunities for him in right field because he does some good things.”
The Panthers got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning. With runners on second and third, Cabrillo pitcher Matt Robustelli’s pickoff attempt bounced into center field, allowing Joe McNamara to score from third.
Cabrillo had five hits to City’s four, but the Panthers capitalized on the many miscues by the Seahawks.
“Today I don’t think either team played particularly well,” said Sullivan. “I think the cold played a factor. We got outhit and we found a way to win.”
City has won three straight after suffering only its second loss of the season Feb. 15 at Reedley College. The Panthers responded with a series sweep at Fresno City College Feb. 16–17 as Ben Purcell and Luis Salinas each picked up wins.
Before Tuesday night, City owned the third-best team earned run average (2.41) in the state. That number will go down after nine more zeroes from the pitching staff.
“We don’t have the most talented staff in the state,” said Sullivan. “They’ve learned their strengths, and they pitch to them. That’s the biggest tip of the cap to that group so far. We don’t have the best fastballs, arms or velocity, but we’re pretty good because our guys do what they do, and they do it well.”
City (10-2) has a two-game set with Contra Costa College Feb. 22 and 24 before Big 8 play begins Feb. 27 at San Joaquin Delta.
For more stats and info on SCC baseball, visit www.sccpanthers.losrios.edu/sports/bsb.