The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

On to the Next One! City Baseball Reaches NorCal Sectional Final

The City College baseball team lines up for postgame handshakes, hugs and high fives after a series-clinching victory over Fresno City College May 12 at Union Stadium. The Panthers advance to the Sectional Final May 18–19 against Sierra College. | Photo by Dianne Rose | [email protected]

Nick Pecoraro

Sports Editor

[email protected]


The City College baseball players were happy to know that they didn’t have to play a game on Mother’s Day, and surely, their mothers were too.

The Panthers welcomed the Central Valley Conference Champion Fresno City College (30-15) for a best-of-three set at Union Stadium May 11–12 in the CCCAA NorCal Super Regional round.

With two of the Top 3 team earned run averages in all of California entering the series, the Rams and the Panthers seemed destined for low-scoring outcomes. Instead, scores of 13-7 in Friday’s Game 1 and 15-11 in Saturday’s Game 2—each contest lasting over four hours—powered the Panthers to a series victory and into the NorCal Regional Finals set for May 18–20.

Saturday marked the final game for the Panthers at the “U”. A potential decisive Game 3 was scheduled for Mother’s Day on Sunday, but the two City College wins helped keep a spot for Mom open on the calendar.

“That’s what it’s all about,” said head coach Derek Sullivan, who reached his 150th career win at City College during the Fresno series.

City College freshman Jaylund Johnson dives safely into home plate during the Panthers’ 15-11 win over Fresno City College May 12 at Union Stadium. | Photo by Dianne Rose | [email protected]

On Friday, the Panthers scored eight runs in the bottom of the third inning, and Kevin Saenz hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season in the next inning. Danny Chavez, Isaiah Rodriguez and Lucas Reid were able to stave off multiple comeback attempts from the Rams in the late innings of the Game 1 win.

In Game 2 Saturday, City scored six runs in the first inning, ignited by Kody Gardner’s base-clearing triple. The Panthers followed with three more in the second, highlighted by Saenz’s two-run double.

Fresno scored five runs in the sixth inning to make it a three-run game, but every time the Rams rallied, City had an answer. Ben Purcell recorded the Game 2 win, throwing 5 1/3 innings with the support of his offense.

“We just approach it like every game we’ve played this year,” said City second baseman Joe McNamara. “We play every pitch. We knew they were going to give us their best. We gave them ours and came out on top. It’s definitely draining, especially when it’s the playoffs and you’re locked into every pitch.”

McNamara is an example of one who’s been locked in this postseason. The sophomore is batting .600 (9-for-15) with five RBIs and five runs scored during the Panthers’ four playoff games.
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“It’s a hell of a time for him to get hot,” said Sullivan of McNamara. “He came into Sac City a ‘Sac City guy’. He plays through soreness and dings. He doesn’t flinch. He’s a team leader, and we need him.”

City College outfielder Anthony Galati is fired up after the Panthers score in the first inning of the May 12 victory over Fresno City College at Union Stadium. | Photo by Dianne Rose | [email protected]

Neither team played well defensively, evidenced by 12 combined errors between the Panthers and the Rams over the two-game set. But City capitalized on the nine errors committed by Fresno, scoring 11 unearned runs in the series.

“We played a little better catch than they did,” said Sullivan. “What we’ve been good at so far in the playoffs is when they make a mistake, we cash in. When they make a small mistake, we make it into a big mistake for them.”

The Rams, who defeated Folsom Lake College in the first round of the postseason, entered Friday’s contest having won 11 of their last 12 games.

The Panthers swept a two-game series at Fresno City College Feb. 16–17. Purcell scored a 4-2 victory in the first game with the Rams, throwing five innings of one-run ball. Jake Guenther’s two-run single in the seventh inning of the Feb. 17 game pushed the Panthers to a 7-2 victory.

The Panthers (31-13) will travel to Sierra College (38-7), the Big 8 Conference Champion and No. 2 seed in the NorCal bracket. Under conference Co-Coach of the Year Rob Willson, the Wolverines produced 10 All-Conference players this season, including Most Valuable Player Dylan Smethurst (.388 average, five homers and 40 RBIs).

City lost two of three games April 10–13 in its regular season series with the Wolverines. The Panthers took the first game of the series 5-2 behind strong outings from Purcell and Reid. City held leads in each of the next two games before falling behind after seventh-inning rallies by Sierra.

Despite the prior results, the Panther pitching staff will be ready for the coming series on the road.

“We’re all really good,” said Reid, who tossed three innings of scoreless relief with four strikeouts against Sierra in the April 10 victory. “That gives us the ability to push each other in practice. That’s where it starts. Everybody’s getting better all the time. We don’t have anyone throwing 98 (miles per hour), but we don’t need that guy. We all know ourselves, and we know our roles.”

Sullivan and the Panthers will go into the regional final with the same mindset as always: taking each game one pitch at a time.

“There aren’t a ton of secrets,” Sullivan said. “Being able to focus on the microscope versus the telescope ultimately gets you where you want to go.”


For more info on SCC baseball, visit

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