Gardner plants a winner: City baseball completes third straight home walk-off win

The City College baseball team greets Kody Gardner with a dogpile after delivering a walk-off double March 24 at Union Stadium. It was the Panthers' third straight extra-inning walk-off win. | Photo by Dianne Rose | diannekayphotos@gmail.com

Nick Pecoraro

Sports Editor

Npecoraro.express@gmail.com

 

Over the past week, the City College baseball team has shown that it doesn’t mind extra innings, especially at Union Stadium.

For the third consecutive home game and with two outs in the 10th inning, City won in walk-off fashion Saturday as Kody Gardner delivered a double that scored Colton Peterson for a 5-4 victory over Cosumnes River College.

“We may own the 10th for right now,” said City head coach Derek Sullivan.

Peterson singled with two outs in the extra frame and took second on a wild pitch with Gardner at the plate. It was then that Sullivan stepped in to have a short conference with Gardner, reminding him that first base was now open and that the Hawks did not necessarily need to throw a strike.

“He just told me to zone in on my pitch,” said Gardner, who promptly crushed a towering fly ball to right field that, with the help of wind blowing in, dropped in between two Hawks outfielders. The Panther dugout roared and emptied to meet Gardner for an infield dogpile.

“If the wind wasn’t blowing, we would’ve had another walk-off home run,” said Sullivan.

 

On March 17, catcher Kevin Saenz hit a 3-run walk-off homer in the 10th inning against Diablo Valley College. In City’s next home game March 20, Jaylund Johnson matched his teammate with a 10th inning, game-winning blast in the series-opener against Cosumnes River. Now Gardner becomes the latest walk-off hero for the Panthers.

“We just have a little home magic, it seems,” said Gardner, who finished 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs.

City freshman Tanner Cunha pitches March 24 at Union Stadium against Modesto Junior College. | Photo by Dianne Rose | diannekayphotos@gmail.com

Down 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, City fought to tie the game on run-scoring singles from Creed Smith and Joe McNamara.

Starter Tanner Cunha went five innings, giving up just one unearned run on two hits. Isaiah Rodriguez and Danny Chavez combined for three scoreless innings of one-hit relief out of the bullpen.

“We’ve had a lot of guys step up lately,” said Sullivan. “That’s when the team thing gets fun. We have a lot of options. If one guy scuffles, boom, next guy. We are seeing growth… That’s a good thing.”

From Feb. 27–March 8, City lost four of five games. Their lone win during that stretch at San Joaquin Delta March 4, the Panthers prevailed again in extra innings, but only after blowing a six-run lead to the Mustangs.

“We maybe took (our bye week) a little lightly, but it’s been full speed ahead after that,” said Gardner. “Everyone has the same approach lately. It’s clearly shown since we have three walk-off wins.”

Since returning to league action March 13, the Panthers are riding a six-game winning streak. Sweeps of both DVC and CRC give the Panthers a 7-2 record in the Big 8 Conference, just 1.5 games off the pace of conference-leading Sierra College, who is currently riding its own 14-game win streak.

Through 25 games, City (19-6 overall) still holds the second-best team earned run average (2.56) in California.

City’s next series is March 27, 29 and 30 against Modesto.

For more info on SCC baseball, visit www.sccpanthers.losrios.edu/sports/bsb.