JC baseball: Bear Cubs roll to state finals


SRJC shortstop Brent Gillespie makes the throw to first base to complete the double play Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Joseph Barkoff)

SRJC shortstop Brent Gillespie makes the throw to first base to complete the double play Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Joseph Barkoff)

Santa Rosa Junior College parlayed an excellent pitching performance by Brian Bynum and shoddy defense by visiting San Joaquin Delta into a 5-1 victory on Sunday and will represent Northern California in the CCCAA State Tournament.

The Bear Cubs finished the Northern Super Regional with a 3-0 record to earn a berth in the finals which begin Friday in Fresno. Feather River is the other school from the North in the four-team, double-elimination bracket. The Southern representatives are Cypress and Fullerton.

Santa Rosa won the state title in 2005 and will be making its first appearance since then.

Bynum allowed three hits over eight innings while three Delta errors played a role in all five Santa Rosa runs.

The top-seeded Bear Cubs opened the scoring in the second inning. Taylor Martin walked and moved to third on Nico Filice’s double down the left field line. Martin then scampered home on an error by third baseman Connor Torres.

The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the seventh when two more Delta errors led to four Santa Rosa runs.

Siosi Poti (Rancho Cotate) opened the inning with a single and after Spencer Neve struck out, Ryan Xepoleas singled. Chase Stafford then hit a grounder to shortstop that could’ve been a double play. However, Andrew Urbistondo threw wildly to second allowing Poti to score.

After Anthony Sequeira (Petaluma) walked and Brent Gillespie (Rancho Cotate) flied out to center, Martin came to the plate and hit a grounder to Urbistondo. Attempting to get a force out at second, he threw the ball into right field and two runs scored.

Stephen McElroy (Petaluma) knocked in the fourth run of the inning with a single.

“We were aggressive on the bases and I think that’s what caused those throwing errors,” coach Damon Neidlinger said. “The plays on the bases were going to be close and it looked like their fielders just rushed their throws.”

The four runs gave winning pitcher Bynum a cushion, as if he needed one. He had a no-hitter until the fifth inning and didn’t allow a runner past second base.

“Everything was working for me,” the right-hander from Del Oro said. “I have so much confidence in my defense, I just concentrated on throwing strikes and letting them make plays behind me.”

Bynum struck out six, all in the first five innings and improved his record to 4-1.

He left the game in the ninth after hitting the first two batters he faced. Tyler Sanders (Rancho Cotate) came on and induced a double play ball before allowing an RBI single to Torres.

Santa Rosa had six hits by six different batters.

Filice’s double in the second was the game’s only extra-base hit.

“It was a hanging slider,” the Cardinal Newman alum said. “I hit it solid.”

While it looked for a long time like the final score would be 1-0, Filice was confident his team would score more runs.

“We’re a good-hitting team and I knew we’d put more runs on the board,” he said. “We just kept banging away and it turned out we caught a couple of breaks.” The Bear Cubs average six runs per game.

“Delta and Santa Rosa are evenly-matched,” Neidlinger said. “We played five times and all five games could’ve gone either way.”

The Bear Cubs wound up winning three of those games including two in the regional.

Delta finished the season with a 30-14 record.

Santa Rosa plays on with a 35-8-1 mark.

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