Dylan Porter got SBCC started on Tuesday at Pershing Park and Jack Aldrich played the finisher role perfectly as the Vaqueros shut down Moorpark on four hits in a 5-1 baseball victory.
The Vaqueros (22-13) won their seventh straight WSC North game to remain in a first-place tie with Ventura at 12-7. Ventura beat Hancock 8-3 on Tuesday and Cuesta, which also started the day tied for first, dropped a 5-2 decision at Oxnard to fall one game behind.
The final WSC games will be played on Thursday with SBCC at Moorpark, Hancock at Ventura and Oxnard at Cuesta, all at 2:30 p.m. The top two teams will automatically qualify for the Southern Cal Regional. The Vaqueros are seeking their third WSC crown in the last five years and hope to extend the longest Regional qualifying streak in Southern California to nine straight years.
Moorpark falls to 15-22 and 7-12.
Aldrich, a freshman left-hander from Oaks Christian High, entered in the third inning with his team on top, 2-1. He pitched seven shutout innings, giving up just two singles while striking out nine and walking two.
"We did an opener setting with Dylan Porter throwing the first two innings and my role is to close it out," said Aldrich, who went to Santa Clara University last year. "It seems to be working. I've never done this until this year. If it brings success, I'm going to roll with it."
Aldrich only faced three over the minimum. He picked Wyatt Walerinta off first after he singled in the fourth. Aldrich struck out the side in the seventh and when Michael Teobaldi singled to lead off the eighth, the Vaqueros turned a 6-4-3 double play. Aldrich got the last two outs on strikeouts.
"Obviously, establishing the fastball early was key for me today. Once I got that going, I was able to rely on my offspeed to finish guys. I started burying curveballs a little bit more, which I'm not used to but we've been working on it lately."
Aldrich noted that the Vaquero pitching staff thrives on putting up zeroes on the board. "We don't accept runs and if our team can get five runs, our staff is very excited."
The Vaqueros are 16-4 this year when scoring five or more runs. They're also 12-5 at home where they're batting .311.
Aldrich has 80 strikeouts in 75.1 innings, giving the Vaqueros three of the top 12 strikeout artists in the state. Ian Churchill is sixth with 90 Ks, Conner Roberts is tied for seventh with 89 and Aldrich is tied for 12th.
"Jack really settled in today and we scored enough to win and move on to the next game," said coach Jeff Walker. "We have a chance to win a conference title on Thursday and that's always the goal."
Porter tossed the first two innings, giving up a run in the second on a double by Walerinta, a single by AJ Herron and a fielder's choice RBI by Jayce Foster. The Vaqueros took a 2-1 lead in the second when Alonzo Rubalcaba reached on a bad-hop single over the shortstop's head, went to third on a double by Nicholas Prainito and scored on Jacob Bravo's sacrifice fly to deep center.
Moorpark committed five errors, leading to three unearned runs.
The Vaqueros got those three runs in the fourth. Rubalcaba reached on an error by the shortstop, Prainito singled to center and Bravo was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with two outs. Caden Gustafson, who went six innings for the Raiders, got Boston Hubbard to ground to second but the ball scooted under the glove of Herron, allowing Rubalcaba and Prainito to score.
Bravo went to third on the error and scored when Hubbard drifted off first base and got in a rundown. While Moorpark was getting the third out from the catcher to the shortstop to the first baseman, Bravo stole home to make it 5-1.
The Vaqueros took a 1-0 lead in the first when Tommy Holguin singled past the third baseman and came around to score on Ben Martz's triple off the right-center field fence. Ventura thought Martz missed second and threw to second after the play and Martz was ruled out for missing the bag, reducing his hit to a single.
Holguin, Martz and Prainito all had two hits for the Vaqueros.