FRESNO — Josh Lenney’s bases-clearing triple in the top of the 10th inning Sunday night capped a frantic comeback by Santa Rosa Junior College in an elimination game at the CCCAA baseball final four.
Their 8-5 victory vaulted them into today’s championship round against Grossmont (37-7), the team that dropped SRJC into the losers’ bracket with a 3-0 victory earlier Sunday. The Bear Cubs, defending state champions, will have to beat Grossmont twice today to retain their title.
Down by four runs with two at-bats left, the Bear Cubs (37-9) clawed back with two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to force extra innings.
Ben Sanderson, a sophomore graduate of Petaluma High School, led off the 10th with a single to right. He advanced to third on consecutive infield outs, then watched as Matt Kimura and Blake Berry walked to load the bases.
Lenney, who delivered an RBI double in the ninth, came through again in the 10th. His triple to left-center gave SRJC a three-run lead. A freshman from Montgomery, Lenney finished the game with four hits in five trips to the plate.
Jared Noonan, a freshman from Montgomery, finished off the win with a scoreless bottom of the 10th to earn the victory.
Sanderson, who went 4 for 5, gave SRJC its first lead with an RBI single in the fourth, driving in Cole Brodnansky, who had doubled to right to lead off the inning. But the Warriors took control of the game with a run in the bottom of the fourth, three in the sixth an another in the seventh, setting the stage for the Bear Cubs’ comeback.
Lenney walked to start the eighth and moved to second when Trevor Mallett was hit by a pitch. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and scored on RBI ground balls by Ryder Kuhns and Brodnansky.
The ninth inning started with Kimura singling to right and taking second on a balk. Berry singled, moving Kimura to third, then Lenney doubled to right to score Kimura and move Berry to third. Mallet’s groundball drove in Berry with the tying run.
Noonan worked a 1-2-3 ninth to send the game to extra innings.