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Ventura Scores Two Runs in 8th Inning, Beats San Marcos, 7-5, to Clinch Channel League Title

Ian Churchill struck out nine, allowed two hits and two runs in six innings for San Marcos. Click to view larger
Ian Churchill struck out nine, allowed two hits and two runs in six innings for San Marcos. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

San Marcos was fighting for playoff survival while Ventura was seeking its first baseball title in 20 years.

In the end, it was Ventura doing the celebrating at Joe Mueller Field on Tuesday as it beat San Marcos 7-5 in eight innings.

The victory gave the Cougars their first Channel League title since 1998. They’re 8-2-1 with one game remaining on Thursday at home against San Marcos. The Royals suffered their fourth straight league loss and fell to 5-6 in league, putting their postseason hopes in jeopardy.

San Marcos plays in Division 2 and coach Jacob Pepper hopes a 17-win overall record is enough to get an at-large berth in the CIF playoffs.

"There may be a spot in there for us if we're lucky," he said.

Behind a solid pitching performance from Ian Churchill, San Marcos was leading 4-1 going into the seventh inning. Churchill allowed two runs,  two hits, walked three and struck out nine in six innings. Ventura rallied for four runs after Churchill was taken out because he was nearing the 110-pitch limit for a high school hurler in a game.

Reliever Mason Metcalfe inherited a baserunner via a lead-off walk. Hector Soltero drew a walk and a passed ball moved Parker Velasquez and Soltero into scoring position. Tommy Matsuyama hit a two-run double down the left-field line to make it a 4-3 game. Will Smithson singled and Broc Mortenson hit a grounder to the right side to score Matsuyama for the tying run. Roger Palacios  grounded out at shortstop before Blake Corsentino gave the Cougars a 5-4 lead with a RBI double.

San Marcos fought back in the bottom of the seventh and tied the score. It loaded the bases against Ventura reliever Diego Roberto, as Louie Shalhoob singled, Ryan Guardino reached on a fielder’s choice and Thomas Hantgin was hit by a pitch. Matt Neal dropped a pop fly into short right field to bring home Shalhoob for the tying run.

Roberto and the Cougars managed to escape without the Royals scoring a game-winning run.

Ventura struck back in the eighth, loading the bases on a lead-off walk to Roberto, a single by Velasquez and a one-out walk to Matsuyama. Metcalfe got Smithson to foul out on the first base side for the second out of the inning, but Mortenson singled through the hole at second base to score Roberto and Matsuyama for a 7-5 lead.

Mortenson, who went 4-for-4 and drove in fours runs in Monday's win over San Marcos, was 1-4 with three RBIs on Tuesday. Smithson was 3-4 with a RBI and Matsuyama 2-4 with two RBI.

For San Marcos, Metcalfe went 4-5 with two doubles and Matt Neal was 2-4 with two RBI.

San Marcos threatened in the bottom of the eighth as Shalhoob hit a one-out single and Metcalfe followed with a double. But the junk-ball throwing Roberto induced pop outs to shortstop and second base to end the game.

And the Cougars celebrated a long-awaited league title.

Matt Neal hits a RBI double for San Marcos in the sixth inning. Neal had two RBI in the game. Click to view larger
Matt Neal hits a RBI double for San Marcos in the sixth inning. Neal had two RBI in the game. (Paul Donohoe photo)

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