SBCC snapped a 3-3 tie with five runs in the sixth on Monday afternoon and went on to beat Oxnard 9-6 in a key WSC North baseball game at Pershing Park.
The first-place Vaqueros (22-15, 12-6) clinched at least a tie for their fourth WSC title in the last seven years. They lead Moorpark (10-8) and Cuesta (10-8) by two games with two to play.
Tyler Rosen and Jake Holton both went 2-3 with an RBI to pace the Vaquero offense. Zane Chittenden was 3-4 for the last-place Condors (17-20-1, 5-13).
John Jensen, a freshman third baseman from Santa Barbara High, saw his 12-game hitting streak come to an end. He lined out in the first, then walked and was hit-by-a-pitch in two straight innings.
Jensen scored three runs and opened the sixth inning with a hit-by-pitch on the first offering from reliever Logan Gillaspie. He was sacrificed to second and scored the go-ahead run for a 4-3 lead on a two-run double by Schatz that caromed off a bump in the infield grass into a double to short left field. Holton also scored on the play for a 5-3 lead.
“We played really well, (Jayden) Metz battled in the later innings and started to find his rhythm,” said Jensen, who’s batting .344 and leads the WSC North at .377. “It took a while for our offense to wake up, then we got it going.
“It’s alright (that his hit streak ended). The important thing was getting on base and scoring some runs. It’s a great feeling to clinch a tie for the title. We worked really hard this year. Now, we just have to look forward to Ventura tomorrow and then the playoffs.”
Reinhard Lautz also had his 11-game hit streak come to a halt as he went 0-5 with three groundouts.
There were 11 doubles in the game and SBCC tied its season-high with six two-baggers. The Vaqueros are 14-3 at home this year and 14-4 when scoring six or more runs. They’re 17-2 when leading after seven innings.
The starting pitchers – Jayden Metz for the Vaqueros and Travis Hawkins for the Condors – were teammates at Ventura High two years ago. After a wild start when he gave up two runs on two hits with two walks and three wild pitches in the first inning, Metz settled down to hold the Condors to two runs on five hits over five innings with four strikeouts and three walks.
Hawkins allowed three runs on four hits in five frames, fanning five and walking one.
“We stayed on our own side and Metz gave us a chance after a rocky start,” said coach Jeff Walker. “First innings are always scary for him. Our offense responded against a good pitcher in Travis Hawkins. Oxnard is a prideful group and a very talented team.
“We clinched a tie for the conference title and we still have two more games to win it outright. That’s a good feeling when you can check that box and move on to the next thing.”
Blake Ogburn delivered a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Shane Hersh followed with an RBI single to score Schatz. Joseph Hamilton hit a ground-rule double as the ball bounced over the fence in left-center, bringing in Hersh and giving the Vaqueros an 8-3 lead.
Jensen was hit-by-a-pitch leading off the seventh, went to second on a single by Rosen and scored on a double to the left-field fence by Holton.
Daniel Buratto (2-0) got the win with 1 1/3 innings of relief, giving up one run on two hits and striking out three. Oxnard scored three in the eighth off Connor Brewster, then hard-throwing Jake Keily came in to get the last out on a four-pitch strikeout.
The Vaqueros will play their final two WSC games against Ventura, hosting the Pirates on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. and traveling to Ventura on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.