Wed, Apr 10 2013 12:06 AM Posted By: Mary York
Everyone has a bad day now and then. The Southwestern College Baseball team has been having a bad week. Struggling to keep their place in the upper reaches of the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference standings, the Jaguars swallowed a brutal loss against San Diego City College on Saturday. The payoff game in the week-long series was one of three losses the team has eaten in its last five matches.
SWC is now third in the conference standings at 11-6, following Grossmont College (12-5) and Palomar College (15-2). In order to have a shot at playoffs the Jags need a seven-game winning streak – and Palomar needs to lose a couple times.
It is a sad turn for a team that had such a great start this season. Defense pulled its act together early on and the team has three very dependable pitchers and a handful of decent relief arms. And the batting line-up is littered with guys who, for the first half of the season, could really make contact with the ball.
So why isn’t the team scoring runs?
“I think everyone just tries too hard,” said sophomore Justin DiStefano.
DiStefano, who seems to have lost his swing, was benched early on Saturday’s game. He is a great right field glove, but like the rest of the batting line up, he’s not hitting the ball.
“Self-confidence is one of the biggest things,” he said. “I think I’m thinking too much in the box. I just need to relax and get back into my old ways.”
If nerves are not killing the team, class schedules might be.
A number of players have been dropped from the roster because of eligibility, including two of the team’s best hitters. In order to play for the team, a student must be enrolled full-time with 12 units or more.
One of the batters, Victor Serna, should be back in the game this week, but coaches and teammates stayed quiet on a return timeline for the remaining missing players.
“We’re student-athletes first and unfortunately some people kind of struggle on the student part,” said freshman Nicholas Quintero. “But that shouldn’t factor into whether we win or lose. We just didn’t have a great game today.”
The 9-5 final score is the largest losing margin the Jags have had during League play. Coach Jerry Bartow said the game was the worst they have had all season. That may be true.
Freshman Wesley Aguilar stood in for shortstop Sheldon Gabriels who was MIA all week.
Aguilar seemed like the cog in the well-oiled infield machine that was just a little too small. Although he made a good effort, he clearly has not had the time he needs to work with the rest of the defensive squad and he left balls bouncing onto the green more than once on Saturday.
Ever-steady sophomore Catcher Cody Sos was detached and slow for most of the game, both when he was behind the plate as a catcher and as a hitter. His tough game took a turn for the worst when he received a warning for hitting San Diego City’s catcher with his bat as he ran for first.
Normally the team’s backbone, Sos was replaced in the eighth inning by Carlos Carriedo.
Freshman pitcher Juwun McCray, whose performance is usually above reproach, met his match with San Diego City’s hit-hard-or-die-trying batters who found their way around the bases, if not all the way home, at a frustrating pace. He was replaced in the seventh inning by Matt DeRosier.
DeRosier never made it out of the seventh inning, letting five runs slip through without making a single out, changing the scoreboard from a workable 4-2 to a devastating 9-2.
With barely enough time to warm up in the bull pen, freshman Brandon Delaney finished out the seventh inning and kept the Knights off the scoreboard for the rest of the game – but the damage was done.
“I think we just collapsed,” said Delaney, not of the afternoon’s painful game but of the slump in their season. “Pitching has pretty much been carrying the team. Hitting is just falling apart.”
The Jags threw up three more runs in innings eight and nine but it came too late.
Second baseman Miguel Solano insists the rough start and the splintering seventh inning did not affect the way the team played.
“If we have one bad inning there are definitely a lot more innings to come back and try to win the game,” he said. “We like to battle all the way to that last out – anything we can to get the win for our team.”
Hopefully, that kind of positive attitude will be enough to sustain the team through the week as they play across-the-town rival Grossmont College, which sits second in the PCAC standings.
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