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COC baseball: Playing for playoffs

Cougars beat L.A. Valley as regular season winds down

Posted: April 18, 2013 9:59 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2013 9:59 p.m.

College of the Canyons' Ivan Vela (3) lays down a sacrifice bunt on Thursday at COC in the Cougars' 9-2 win.

 

If College of the Canyons baseball is going to play its way into the postseason, pitching performances like Thursday’s will certainly help.

COC starter Ryan Cruz had a no-hitter broken up in the eighth inning before posting an efficient 7 2/3 inning performance as the Cougars beat Los Angeles Valley College 9-2 at COC.

The win puts COC 1 1/2 games behind Bakersfield for second place in the Western State Conference, South Division with four conference games to play.

The top two finishers in each conference qualify automatically for the California Community College Athletic Association Southern California Regional playoffs.

“We kind of have to (approach every like it’s the playoffs),” said COC head coach Chris Cota. “We have four left and I think we’ll be fine, but we can’t overlook Saturday.”

That’s when COC begins a two-game slate against non-playoff contender West L.A. before finishing out the regular season with two games against another team out of contention in L.A. Mission.

If the Cougars (19-13 overall, 14-6 WSC South) finish outside of second in conference, the regional playoff bracket still includes six at-large spots based on overall records.

That record improved on Thursday thanks to Cruz’s performance mixed in with plenty of run support on a 15-hit day.

The Cougars started off with a four-run third inning that included a Trey Williams RBI single followed by a two-RBI base hit up the middle by Kevin Lenik. Williams also scored in the inning off one of L.A. Valley’s four errors in the game.

COC then added three runs in the fifth and one apiece in the sixth and seventh to take a 9-0 lead.

In the top of the eighth, Ariel Adut ended Cruz’s potential no-hitter with a softly-hit ground ball to short. The throw to first by Chad DeLaguerra was a little late.

Cruz later admitted he didn’t even realize he hadn’t given up a hit to that point, which was helped by the fact that the scoreboard in left field wasn’t working properly.

“There were a couple errors (earlier in the game) and I wasn’t sure if they were counted as base hits,” Cruz said. “I just tried not to pay attention to it.”

Cruz would eventually allow a run off a sacrifice fly and two hits while striking out six and walking two in the game. He improved to 5-1 on the season and dropped his ERA to 2.22.

“He had a fastball, a curve and a change and he had command of all three,” said L.A. Valley head coach Dave Mallas. “He threw them early, late in the count and it kept us off balance.”

For the Monarchs (8-25, 7-15), starter Torrey Scott took the loss after allowing seven runs off nine hits in four innings.

The last run he gave up was off a Lenik single that gave him his third RBI of the game.

Later in that fifth inning, Alex Bishop plated Lenik with a single of his own. Bishop finished the day 4-for-5.

“We’ve just got to keep the energy up and keep hitting like we have been,” Cruz said.

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