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Vaqueros can’t get timely hits in 4-3 setback

Jimmy Brakka went 2-4 with an RBI single in the seventh. (Photo by John Dvorak/PresidioSports.com)
Jimmy Brakka went 2-4 with an RBI single in the seventh. (Photo by John Dvorak/PresidioSports.com)

After pulling within a run on Thursday at Pershing Park, SBCC had two runners thrown out at home and stranded four others in the last three innings of a 4-3 baseball loss to El Camino.

It was the first home loss in eight games for the Vaqueros (11-3). It was El Camino's second win over Santa Barbara in three days and both were one-run verdicts.

Dylan Hatch had two doubles for the Warriors (8-5) and the second one brought in three runs in the fifth, giving the visitors a 4-1 lead.

The game matched two top left-handers on the mound. Ulices Moreno (4-0) went 6 2/3 innings for El Camino, allowing three runs on three hits but also walked seven. SBCC ace Tyler Gilbert was strong through the first 4 2/3 innings but then gave up a walk, a single, a walk and hit Fred Smith with a pitch to force in a run and tie it at 1-1.

Hatch, a sophomore left-hander, followed with his double off the right-field fence, clearing the bases.

"The difference in the game on both sides of the ball was they did a better job of finishing the innings, both offensively and defensively," said Vaquero coach Jeff Walker. "Giving up four runs with two outs hurts. I think we had a mental lapse, we got a little too comfortable.

"On offense, we got guys close and strung together some quality at-bats but we weren't able to finish the innings."

Gilbert (4-1) suffered his first loss, giving up four runs on eight hits in six innings. He struck out six, walked two and hit two batters. Cody Van Aken gave the offense a chance by retiring the last nine Warriors in order.

The Vaqueros took a 1-0 lead in the third when Noeh Martinez walked, was sacrificed to second, went to third on a hit by Brandon Evans and scored on a fielder's choice from Spencer Erdman.

First baseman James Brakka doubled to lead off the sixth and scored on a fielder's choice by Matt Henderson to make it 4-2. Patrick O'Brien was forced out at second on the play and Henderson got caught in a rundown with El Camino shortstop Fred Smith tagging him out to end the inning.

In the seventh, the Vaqueros loaded the bases on three walks and Brakka brought in Dallas Bacon with a two-out single off reliever Josh Norwood. Evans tried to score from second on Brakka's hit but was cut down at the plate by right fielder Kevin Lopez, preserving a 4-3 El Camino lead.

Trey Barrett singled to open the bottom of the eighth and Ryan Crowe ran for him. O'Brien drilled a double to the deepest part of the outfield in right center but Crowe was thrown out at home on a relay from the shortstop.

"We made some mistakes on the bases," said Walker. "Getting thrown out at the plate with no outs is a difficult one to swallow. They say it's a game of inches. Our (portable) fences were moved in about 15 feet due to the weather because they didn't want to mess up the other softball field. But we have to understand the fence is a little closer and not be surprised by that.

"We had the tying run on in the last two innings and we had chances to score earlier in the game but we didn't execute."

The Vaqueros will open WSC North action on Tuesday at Ventura with the first pitch at 2 p.m.