The City baseball team lost consecutive games to Sierra College Thursday and Friday after holding early leads in both games.
City fell to 11-7 in the Big 8 Conference with a 7-4 loss to the Wolverines Friday afternoon at Union Stadium after a six-run seventh inning proved to be the Panthers’ undoing.
City starter Danny Chavez went six solid innings, but the bullpen unraveled in the seventh. Head coach Derek Sullivan went through four pitchers in the top of the seventh as Sierra rallied for six game-changing runs.
“It was definitely not the inning we wanted,” said Sullivan. “It fell apart for us in a number of ways. We had some other opportunities and hit into a couple big double plays. That part is just baseball. That’s a good team, and they took full advantage… This one hurts.”
City faced two of the top pitchers in the Big 8 in back-to-back games. Sierra’s Tyler Gums and Nathan Barry have a combined 16-0 record and hold Division I scholarships, according to Sullivan. Barry mostly kept City’s bats quiet through seven-plus innings Friday, giving up only three hits and four runs.
“(Barry) has a lot of life to his fastball,” said Sullivan. “The changeup was his best pitch today. He just threw it for strikes.”
Chavez left the game with a 2-1 lead after six innings, allowing just one run on three hits with three walks. Sullivan is keeping Chavez on limited work, since he recently returned from injury.
“(Chavez) did a really good job,” said Sullivan. “He wasn’t sharp early, but he did a great job of making pitches and inducing weak contact. We’re just trying to build him back up.”
Sierra plated a run in the top of the second inning, putting City in an early 1-0 hole. In the bottom half of the inning, Brett Bello’s fly ball carried over the Sierra left fielder’s head for a double, scoring two go-ahead runs for the Panthers.
After the big inning from Sierra in the seventh, the Panthers scraped across a pair of runs in the eighth on a Daniel Walsh single, bringing City to within three heading into the final frame. It would not, however, be enough to beat the Wolverines.
City won the series-opener at Union Stadium April 10 with a 5-2 victory as Ben Purcell went six strong innings, giving up only three hits and zero earned runs while striking out six. Lucas Reid picked up the three-inning save. Bello and Brodie Garner had two hits and two RBIs apiece.
Despite a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning in Thursday’s game at Sierra, the Panthers gave up three runs in the Wolverine half of the seventh and fell 6-5. In his second game back in the lineup after missing four games with a knee injury, Jake Guenther hit his first home run of the season in the third inning.
“We thought this was a series that we should win,” said Sullivan. “Not like it was going to be easy, but I thought we matched up well. It’s just another opportunity to see where we’re at.”
The Panthers have six games remaining on the regular season schedule, including three with Santa Rosa, who is one game ahead of City College and one game out of first place in the Big 8 standings. The Panthers currently sit in fourth place, just two games out of the conference lead.
“We’re battling for playoff positioning,” said Sullivan. “These teams are also going to be in the playoffs, so there’s a very good chance that if we’re successful, that we’ll face them again. It doesn’t get easier. I hope we’re learning.”
For more info on SCC baseball, visit www.sccpanthers.losrios.edu/sports/bsb/.