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SBCC Rides Hot Pitching of Ian Clark to 2-0 Victory

Ian Clark threw a four-hit shutout for SBCC against Oxnard. The Vaqueros have won four straight.
Ian Clark threw a four-hit shutout for SBCC against Oxnard. The Vaqueros have won four straight. (Dave Loveton photo)

 Ian Clark threw a four-hitter on Thursday and SBCC blanked Oxnard 2-0 in a WSC North baseball game under cloudy skies at Pershing Park.

 Chris Smutny went 2-3 in the fourth straight win by the Vaqueros (14-14, 11-5), who remained in a first-place tie with Cuesta (17-9, 10-4), which beat Hancock 6-2 on Thursday.

 Clark allowed the leadoff runner to reach third in the first, third and sixth innings but the Condors (12-16, 7-9) could never get the key hit.

 “I felt locked in and I was confident with my stuff and confident with my defense,” said Clark, a 6-6 right-hander from Danville, Calif., who improved to 5-4 with the second complete game in his last four outings. “I wasn’t worried about the wrong things, it was all about going out there and being confident in my pitches and letting my defense work for me.”

 The middle infielders recorded 16 outs with shortstop Wesley Ghan-Gibson getting two pop-outs and assisting on eight groundouts. Second baseman Michael Montpas had six assists on groundouts, including a nice throw from behind second base to end the sixth. With a runner on second and two outs in the ninth, Clark finished the game by getting Luis Magana on his only strikeout.

 “I got hot, then I slowed down a little in my season and felt like I needed to make a change,” said Clark, who hit Adam Maciel with the first pitch of the game and walked one. “I stuck with those adjustments and it’s worked out.

 “We’re in first place, which is exactly where we want to be and exactly where we expect to be. It’s time to win out.”

 SBCC took a 1-0 lead in the second when catcher Andrew Cosgrove reached on a bad-hop single to left and went to third on a single to right by Nicholas Allman. Ghan-Gibson laid down a safety squeeze bunt to the pitcher and Cosgrove scored.

 Smutny doubled down the left-field line to lead off the third and went to third on a wild pitch by Oxnard starter Joseph Merrill. With two outs, Nic Bereaud faked a bunt and Smutny was 12 feet off third but Condor catcher Logan Gillaspie threw it into left field and Smutny strolled home with an unearned run to make it 2-0.

 Merrill, a 5-9 left-hander, pitched well enough to win, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.

 “Outstanding job by Ian Clark and our defense,” said SBCC coach Jeff Walker. “We won the series against a league rival (3-1) and we did a good job of moving forward.

 “I thought Ian got better as the game went on. The defense played solid behind him and it was a great job all around.”

 Santa Barbara will play its next two against Cuesta in a battle for first. The Vaqueros will host the Cougars on Saturday at 1 p.m., then travel to San Luis Obispo for a 2:30 p.m. game on Tuesday.

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