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College baseball: The Cougars' finish line

COC's season ends with 16-inning loss in play-in game

Posted: May 1, 2012 10:34 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2012 10:34 p.m.

College of the Canyons baseball had to grind its way just to earn a chance at a playoff game, then it had to grind once it got there.

But after 16 innings, the Cougars came up a hit short, losing 6-5 to Santa Barbara on Tuesday in Santa Barbara in a CCCAA Southern California Regional play-in game.

COC pitcher John Salas stayed in for the last 11 1/3 innings of the game, striking out seven and allowing only the one run in the bottom of the 16th on a walk-off RBI single by Mark Jebbia.

“He pitched with as much guts as I’ve seen a guy pitch,” said COC head coach Chris Cota. “He just kept competing and competing and kept wanting to get back out there.”

When Salas came in during the fifth innings, the Cougars (20-16-2) were behind 5-3 after the Vaqueros (20-17) roughed up COC starter Cory Jones for three runs in the frame.

Jake Jelmini tied it at 5-5 up for COC when he hit a two-run home run in the seventh.

After that, the scoring ground to a halt.

In the eighth inning, Rich McCaffrey, normally a starter for Santa Barbara, came into the game and continued to pitch the final 8 1/3 innings scoreless.

McCaffrey earned the win.

“It was a serious pitching duel after that and both guys just competed and it was just two teams trying to score a run,” Cota said.

In the end, the Vaqueros came up with the winning hit when Jebbia hit a ground ball the snuck through the infield into left field with Zac Zehner on second base.

COC left fielder Connor Garelick tried to make the game-saving throw to get Zehner out at home, but the ball hit shortstop Christian Ornelas in the head, allowing the winning run to score.

“I’m proud of the way we finished out the season and I’m proud of the way the guys played today,” Cota said. “We just came out with the short end of the stick.”


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