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Vaqueros win season opener in dramatic fashion, 3-2

Jake Holton, who singled in the 4th, 5th and 8th innings, delivers a walk-off sacrifice fly to right in the bottom of the ninth that gave the Vaqueros a 3-2 victory. (Photos by Dave Loveton)
Jake Holton, who singled in the 4th, 5th and 8th innings, delivers a walk-off sacrifice fly to right in the bottom of the ninth that gave the Vaqueros a 3-2 victory. (Photos by Dave Loveton)

Jake Holton had a memorable college debut on Saturday, going 3-for-3 and driving in the game-winning run on a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth that lifted No. 17 SBCC to a 3-2 season-opening baseball win over Cerritos at Pershing Park.

"It was very surreal to get out there and get a win for the older guys," said Holton, a freshman third baseman from Los Gatos. "Our pitchers were amazing, pounding the zone and keeping the defense active.

"I had some butterflies in my first at-bat, then I settled down and just worked the zone. All I was thinking about in the ninth was how to score Steven (Elliott), with a base hit, a sacrifice fly, a hard ground ball, any way I could do it."

Holton came to the plate with the score tied 2-2, the bases loaded and one out in the ninth. The Vaqueros loaded the bases on singles by Elliott and Blake Ogburn, followed by a 3-2 walk to cleanup hitter Nicholas Allman. After a flyout, Holton drove a pitch from reliever Micah Hee to short right field and Juan Rodriguez had to dive to his left to grab it, allowing Elliott to score from third.

The Vaqueros (1-0) took an early 2-0 lead by loading the bases in the third on two walks and a hit batter by starting pitcher Vincent Fuentes. Tyler Rosen drove in Elliott with the season's first run on a fielder's choice and Holton grounded a single through the right side to score Ogburn.

The Vaqueros outhit the Falcons 8-6 and stranded 13 runners. Starting pitcher Elliott Reece went six innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

"Pitching and defense got the job done," said coach Jeff Walker. "Elliott Reece set the tone, he was excellent in his first college outing. We got a lot of guys into the game and depth is going to be one of our strengths.

"We had a couple of miscues, the interference call on the double play in the fourth took a run off the board and then we gave them a run by throwing the ball away with two outs. That's a two-run swing, if we make those plays and take care of those details, we would have had a bigger lead."

The Vaqueros appeared to take a 3-0 lead in the fourth on a fielder's choice that scored Griffin Hennessey but the umpire called interference on Reinhard Lautz sliding into the shortstop. That was an automatic double play and sent Hennessey back to third.

Cerritos, ranked No. 16 in Southern Cal, got an unearned run in the sixth on a two-out throwing error by Holton. The Falcons tied it 2-2 in the seventh when Rolando Nichols drew a walk from reliever David Appleby, went to second on a single by Adam Rubio and scored on a single by pinch-hitter Dominic Bravo.

"First college game for Jake Holton and he was swinging to hit," stated Walker. "This is a good way to start and we're taking them one game at a time. It's always good to start with a walk-off win."

 The Vaqueros travel to No. 2 Saddleback for a three-game series in Mission Viejo, starting Thursday at 6 p.m.