SRJC bounced from CCCAA tournament with 3-2 loss to Fullerton

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Fullerton College pushed across a run with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning Saturday night in Fresno to defeat Santa Rosa JC, 3-2, and eliminate the Bear Cubs from the CCCAA State Tournament.

Earlier in the day, Santa Rosa had stayed alive in the double-elimination format by defeating Feather River, 2-1.

Fullerton faces Cypress today for the title. Cypress starts the day undefeated while Fullerton has one loss.

Fullerton’s Uriel Salinas got the hit that doomed Santa Rosa, a bases-loaded line drive up the middle on the first pitch he saw from Tyler Sanders (Rancho Cotate). The bases were loaded at the time.

The Hornets came close to winning the game in the ninth. Following a throw into center field by Sanders on a potential double-play ball, Matt LoCoco (Piner) uncorked a perfect throw to catcher Spencer Neve (Petaluma) to nail Paul Frias at the plate.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, Santa Rosa rallied to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Stephen McElroy (Petaluma) scored following an infield single by Siosi Poti (Rancho Cotate), and Parker Shaw came across with the second run after a ground-ball single by Nico Filice (Cardinal Newman).

The lead lasted until the seventh. Brandon Hagerla (Petaluma) relieved starter Brian Bynum and gave up a pair of singles. Sanders then came on and yielded a sacrifice fly that scored the tying run.

The Bear Cubs committed three errors, and one Fullerton run was unearned. The Hornets banged out 15 hits to Santa Rosa’s eight.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my players,” coach Damon Neidlinger said. “They competed without any fear. It was a great baseball game. We’re all disappointed but no one is hanging their head.”

Lack of scoring proved to be Santa Rosa’s downfall in the tournament. The Bear Cubs averaged six runs per game during the regular season but scored only five total in the three games at state.

Against Fullerton, they had the leadoff batter on base in five of the first six innings but only scored in the fifth.

“All weekend we struggled to put hits together,” Neidlinger said. “We got 11 hits against Cypress on Friday (the Bear Cubs lost 7-1) and 15 hits total the second day. We just weren’t able to put hits together to have a big inning.”

Santa Rosa was the top seed in Northern California.

Instead, the Bear Cubs finished third among the 84 junior college teams in the state and ends up with a 34-9-1 record.

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