College baseball: SRJC closing in on state tournament berth

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team is one win away from a trip to the CCCAA State Tournament.

Today, the Bear Cubs will have two chances to get that victory as they are the only team in the double-elimination Northern Super Regional without a loss.

Their opponent, San Joaquin Delta, must beat them in the 11 a.m. game and again in the contest that would follow to keep Santa Rosa from going to the State Tournament which begins on Friday in Fresno.

Today’s action will take place at Cook Sypher Field on the SRJC campus.

Santa Rosa put themselves in this enviable position by defeating Delta, 8-4, on Saturday. The Mustangs then stayed alive and eliminated Chabot, 12-6, in the late afternoon game.

The Bear Cubs haven’t been to the State Tournament since 2005 when they won it all.

Saturday, SRJC fell behind 3-0 before the bats woke up in the fourth inning. With two outs and a runner on first, the home team strung together five consecutive singles good for four runs.

Nico Filice (Cardinal Newman) started the hit parade and he was followed by Siosi Poti (Rancho Cotate), Spencer Neve (Petaluma), Ryan Xepoleas (Del Oro) and Chase Stafford (Casa Grande).

The Bear Cubs padded their lead with three in the fifth and one in the next inning.

Left fielder Xepoleas has been sensational in the two tournament games. In Friday’s 13-3 win over Solano, he was 5-for-6 and Saturday, he was 2-for-3 with two walks and three RBIs.

“It’s the playoffs,” Xepoleas responded when asked about his hot bat. “You play all year to get in this position.

“I’ve been aggressive at the plate and it’s paid off.”

The Bear Cubs didn’t get a hit against Delta starter Sam Held through the first three innings but hit him hard the second time through the line-up.

“He was throwing harder than the Solano pitchers we saw on Friday,” Xepoleas said.

“We adjusted and got the bats going earlier the second time we saw him.”

A pair of Cardinal Newman alums — Jason Alexander and JJ Jamerson — pitched into the eighth inning and Tyler Sanders, who played at Rancho Cotate, finished up.

Alexander, the All-Empire Player of the Year his senior year for the Cardinals, started and was relieved by Jamerson at the start of the fifth.

“This definitely wasn’t one of my better games,” Alexander said.

“I was falling behind the batters and they made me pay.”

Jamerson gave up singles to the first two batters he faced.

Then, he enticed Rudy Perez to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

“The double play ball came at a good time,” Jamerson said. “I got the ball down low and the batter it right to Brent Gillespie.”

Jamerson got the win and improved his record to 6-0.

Santa Rosa banged out 11 hits and didn’t commit an error for the second game in a row.

Stafford and Filice, along with Xepoloeas, had two hits apiece.One of Filice’s hits was a home run in the ninth.

Santa Rosa takes a 34-8-1 in to today’s action.

The Bear Cubs, the top seed, and Delta, No. 5, have played four times this season. Each team has won twice.

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