FRESNO, Calif. – El Camino College will have to navigate its way through the tougher portion of the bracket after falling to Santa Rosa, 5-2, Saturday afternoon in the opening game of the 2017 California Community College Baseball State Championships.
The Warriors (39-10) could never get much going offensively against the Bear Cubs (36-9), tallying just five hits on the day, all of them singles.
Starter Taylor Rashi picked up the loss on the mound for ECC, going seven innings and allowing four runs on nine hits. He walked three and struck out 11, the sixth double-digit strikeout performance of the season for the sophomore right-hander.
Ben Sanderson led the Bear Cubs offensive attack, going 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Blake Berry was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and Justin Bruihl picked up the win on the mound, going six innings in relief and allowing two runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out eight.
The Bear Cubs struck in the second inning as Jeff Bart led off with a walk and then took second base on a wild pitch. Sanderson opened the scoring as he laced a 2-1 offering from Rashi for a double to center field, scoring Bart easily and putting the Bear Cubs ahead 1-0.
After a groundout advanced Sanderson to third, Berry cashed him in with a double to left field on a sinking line drive to score Sanderson and make it 2-0.
The Warriors answered in the fourth inning after Bruihl came in to relieve starter Jared Noonan to begin the frame. After a groundout to short, Connor Underwood walked and then Barba singled to right field to put two on for the Warriors. Each runner advanced on a balk by Bruihl and then Cody Wissler grounded out to short to score Underwood and trim the deficit in half.
Bruihl then walked Lewis and the fourth ball got away from catcher Trevor Mallett, allowing Barba to come in with the tying run and square things up at 2-2.
But that was the last bit of offense for the Warriors as they managed just two hits the rest of the way against Bruihl including a stretch of four straight strikeouts. The Warriors never got another runner to second base after the fourth.
Meanwhile, Rashi ran into trouble in the sixth inning as Ryder Kuhns led off with a soft line drive single to center. Cole Brodnansky followed by punching a single through the right side to put the first two runner on in the inning. Rashi struck out Bart for the first out but then the Bear Cubs smacked three straight singles to plate two runs and take a 4-2 lead after six.
They added another run in the eighth and that was enough as Bruihl got Sylvester to fly out to center for the final out of the game to send the Warriors to the loser's bracket.
The Warriors will play an elimination game Sunday morning at 10 a.m. against the loser of the Grossmont-Ohlone game.