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Vaqueros hold off Oxnard, 11-9, to move into first

Ben Martz, a sophomore catcher/DH from Thousand Oaks, drilled a solo homer and RBI triple in the first two innings. He's hit safely in 7 of the last 8 games, raising his average to .299. (File photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)
Ben Martz, a sophomore catcher/DH from Thousand Oaks, drilled a solo homer and RBI triple in the first two innings. He's hit safely in 7 of the last 8 games, raising his average to .299. (File photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)

SBCC built a comfortable 11-4 lead in the fifth on a warm Saturday at Pershing Park, then hung on for an 11-9 baseball win over Oxnard.

The Vaqueros (18-12, 11-7) weathered a four-run Condor rally in the ninth to post their sixth straight WSC North victory. They moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with Cuesta and Ventura. The three teams have two WSC games left and they'll play those games on Tuesday, April 23 and Thursday, April 25.

Benjamin Martz homered for the second straight day in the first inning and added an RBI triple in a seven-run second that gave the Vaqueros an 8-3 lead. Logan Pollack went 2-4 with four RBIs on a two-run single in the second and another two-run single through the left side in a three-run fifth that stretched the margin to 11-4.

Santa Barbara has scored 34 runs in the last three days and went 3-1 on the week.

Jack Aldrich started Saturday's game and went two innings, allowing three runs on three hits. Ace left-hander Ian Churchill came in to start the third and quickly gave up a run when Jose Parga tripled and scored on a single by Daniel Cabral. Churchill also surrendered a solo homer to Raul Sandoval in the sixth.

The Condors loaded the bases in the eighth and ninth against Churchill, who brought a tiny 0.65 ERA into the contest. He escaped the eighth-inning jam on a strikeout and two pop-outs but was touched for four runs in the ninth. Cabral singled in Parga, who had doubled, and went to second on an error by shortstop Alex Holets. Churchill hit Sandoval in the foot to load the bases and then hit Austin Maciel to force in a run and make it 11-7.

Mark Hernandez hit a two-run single past the shortstop to cut the deficit to two, 11-9, and chase Churchill.

Jake McBride, who picked up his first college win on Thursday, came in for his third appearance of the week. The 6-5 freshman from Dos Pueblos High got Brian Camacho to pop to short on the first pitch and then got Antonio Sandoval on a flyout to secure the win and his first save.

Churchill had only allowed four earned runs all year and he gave up six runs (five earned) on 10 hits in 6.1 innings of relief. He struck out eight and walked three.
"It happens to even the best of us," said McBride. "He's pitched so well this year and for most of this game."

McBride came in to protect an 11-9 lead with runners on first and third and one out in the top of the ninth.

"My thought was to have some fun, throw strikes and get this important win for our team," he said. "We need to 'survive and advance' because we want to win this thing. It's exciting to move into first place. We've been through a lot of ups and downs this year and it's great to see where we are now.

"Honestly, I don't even care that Ian couldn't finish it. I'm so proud of him and what he's been able to do. I was actually looking at the stats last night and noticed I didn't have a save, so it's nice to get this one today."

The Vaqueros loaded the bases in the second when Alonzo Rubalcaba was hit by a pitch for the second straight inning, Holets walked and Boston Hubbard beat out a bunt single. Jacob Bravo singled to right to score Rubalcaba and Pollack, the No. 9 hitter, stroked a two-run single up the middle to make it 6-3.

Bravo scored on Tommy Holguin's fielder's choice and Martz followed with an RBI triple to right-center. Patrick Caulfield had two hits and stole second and third base in the second inning. Caulfield is tied for second in the state in steals with 23, one behind the leader.

"We knew it would be an offensive day with warm weather and no wind," said Vaquero coach Jeff Walker. "It's nice to see us swinging the bats so well. Survive and advance, that's our motto.

"Ian did his job, then he ran out of gas in the ninth and we had Jake McBride pick us up. It feels good to be back in first place."

The Vaqueros will play four non-conference games next week. They'll go to Pasadena City (20-11) on Tuesday and host the Lancers on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. In-between, they'll play two with L.A. Pierce on Wednesday, starting at 1 p.m. with the conclusion of a 5-5 game with the Vaqueros batting in the top of the ninth. Thirty minutes after that game ends, SBCC and Pierce will play the third game of their series.

SBCC will try to win its third WSC title in the last five years by taking the last two-game series from Moorpark. They'll host the Raiders on Tuesday, April 23 at 2:30 p.m. and play the regular-season finale on April 25 at Moorpark.