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Oxnard edges Vaqueros 2-1 in Sectional opener

Jimmy Brakka singled in the 2nd and 4th innings of Friday's Sectional opener. (Photo by Dave Loveton)
Jimmy Brakka singled in the 2nd and 4th innings of Friday's Sectional opener. (Photo by Dave Loveton)

Daniel Barnett delivered a two-run, opposite-field single down the right-field line in the seventh inning on Friday and Oxnard went on to edge SBCC 2-1 in Game 1 of its Southern Cal Sectional baseball series.

Luke Eubank (12-0) won a pitcher's duel with Justin Bruce (7-5), tossing four-hit ball for seven innings in a battle between the top two WSC North teams at Oxnard. Eubank, who lowered his ERA to 0.69, gave up an unearned run in the first inning. Vaquero leadoff hitter Brandon Evans reached on an error by shortstop Ryan Webberley and two outs later, he scored on a single to center by Connor McManigal.

"I remember facing Eubank last time, he tried to go hard inside fastball and then usually the offspeed," said McManigal, a former Santa Barbara High standout. "He came at me with two hard fastballs and I just tried to stay middle with it.

"We definitely need to score more than one run. Eubank pitched well and for a while, we thought we had it. Bruce was pitching phenomenal."

Eubank struck out seven in the first six innings, raising his state-leading total to 126. Bruce was just as effective, holding the Condors (32-10) to two singles in the first six innings. He pitched all eight innings for his third complete game, giving up two runs on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks

James Brakka went 2-4 for the Vaqueros (27-14), who lost for the first time in five playoff games. Brakka reached third base with one out in the second and fourth innings but the Vaqueros couldn't get him home.

"We couldn't get the timely hit with a couple of guys in scoring position," said coach Jeff Walker. "The ball kind of bounced their way. Both teams played well defensively."

The Condors only had three baserunners in the first six innings. With one out in the seventh, Julian Ramon singled up the middle and Webberley followed with a double just inside the left-field line. After a groundout to third, Barnett stroked his game-winning single to right.

James Hill singled to left with two outs in the ninth off reliever Blake Redman but pinch-hitter Dallas Bacon lined out to short to end the game.

Walker said his team is still in good position, despite trailing 1-0 in the best-of-3 series. The winner moves on to the State Final 4 next weekend in Fresno.

"Even though we're down 1-0, I'd say it's pretty much even at this point," he stated. "We still have a big advantage with the two guys we have left vs. the two guys they have left.

"We saw their best effort and we gave a pretty good effort. We've got better baseball ahead of us the next two days."

Left-hander Tyler Gilbert will start Game 2 for Santa Barbara on Saturday at Oxnard, starting at 1 p.m. A third game, if necessary, will be played on Sunday at noon.