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SWC baseball team tied for first in conference standings Mary York | Fri, Mar 22 2013 11:36 AM

Early spring warms up any baseball field pretty quickly, but Jaguar Junction turned into a real pressure cooker when Southwestern College played the last match in a three-game series against Palomar College last Saturday.  Still smarting from two loses against the Comets earlier in the week, the Jaguars smacked the dust from their gloves and hit the green, this time with home field advantage.

SWC edged out Palomar, 2-1.  The win was an important one, breaking a three-game losing streak and keeping the Jaguars tied with Palomar for first place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference standings.

Although the team has been able to consistently pull out wins -- 7-4 in preseason and 5-3 in Conference-- the Jags have been struggling to pull themselves together as a team. They have a loaded deck with talented freshmen and seasoned players alike, but learning to work as a single entity has been the real challenge, said freshman pitcher Juwun McCray.

“We’ve always been solid, we just didn’t gel together at first,” he said. “Now we’re gelled. Everything’s going.”

McCray did a stand-up job on the mound, pitching eight-and-a-third innings before being replaced by Matt DeRosier with one out already up on the board.

“It’s just a five-ounce ball and your body, but it wears and it tears more than you think,” said McCray. “In the ninth inning after I got the out, I realized how tired I was.”

DeRosier, a freshman relief pitcher, said he likes closing out games, even with the pressure of following up a quality hurler like McCray. “When it’s a close game like that it’s just an awesome feeling,” he said. “There is pressure but I don’t let it get to me. I just go out there and pitch.”

As a whole, the Jaguars looked like they were pulling themselves together. Errors in the infield seem to be a thing of the past. The line-up suffered slightly from the absence of third baseman Hector Montes, who is out due to an injury, but they still managed to play in the clutch and push two runners home. Thanks to a clean defense, two runs were all they needed.

“Our outfield is just insanely fast and has insane range,” said left-fielder Chris Allen. “Any ball in the air I’m not even worried about. And our infield, we have arms all around the diamond. We have amazing hands at second base.”

Fellow outfielder Victor Serna agreed that the gloves on the green are a crucial part in the strong defensive team SWC is building this season.

“Outfield is phenomenal,” said Serna. “We’ve got great speed. Everyone gets the ball no matter what. Everyone, every day, is focusing at practice.”

Both Serna and Allen are in the batting line-up.

According to SWC coach Jerry Bartow, the only thing keeping the team from crossing home plate is timing.

“I like our club,” he said. “I think they’re the best team in conference, but they’ve got to get base hits at the right time.”

SWC won two games against Imperial Valley College this week and has a third on Saturday.

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