Santa Rosa JC’s baseball team had to play two games in near 100-degree heat Monday in Fresno, but in the end it was worth it as the Bear Cubs wound up winning the CCCAA State Tournament.
Santa Rosa beat Golden West, 6-3, in the winner-take-all game.
The Bear Cubs could’ve captured the championship earlier in the day. However, they suffered a 12-10 loss to Golden West for their first defeat in the double-elimination final four format.
The title game was full of suspense. The Rustlers led 1-0 after 31/2 innings and it was 3-3 going to the bottom of the seventh.
Santa Rosa, which came into the tournament as the top-ranked junior college team in California, scored what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Jeff Bart reached on an error by the shortstop. Originally, Bart was called out but after conferencing, the umpires changed the call and ruled the first baseman pulled his foot off the bag.
A wild pitch moved the Rancho Cotate graduate to second base and he came home on Zach Hall’s single to right field.
Santa Rosa scored two insurance runs in the eighth. Mitch West doubled to the left field wall and scampered home on a double by Bryce Nagata down the left field line.
Nagata then scored on Ryder Kuhns’ single to center field.
Ladd Ah Choy pitched the first five innings, Anthony Bender came in and went three and Alec Rennard pitched the final inning.
It was Bender’s longest stint on the mound since coming back from an oblique problem.
“I wanted to go out and pitch the ninth but coach (Damon Neidlinger) told me when I came to the dugout after the eighth that Rennard was going to pitch the ninth.
“I was OK with that since he’s been awesome all year. I knew he would close it out for us.” Bender, from Casa Grande, was the winning pitcher.
Rennard, the game one winner on Saturday, was named co-most valuable player along with teammate Jake Scheiner. They played together at Maria Carrillo.
Scheiner had 10 hits in 16 trips to the plate in the four games in Fresno.
“It was nice to get the award but all I wanted was to do my part to help us win the state tournament,” he said.
Scheiner said the team’s confidence wasn’t shaken following the loss in the first game.
The Bear Cubs banged out 18 hits but were compromised by six errors. Golden West had nine hits and played error-free. Only five of the Rustlers’ runs were earned.
“There was no panic after that first game,” Scheiner said. “We hit the ball well but didn’t play good defense and didn’t do the little things that win ball games.
“We were confident that if we stuck to our game plan at the plate and played heads-up defense, we would win the second game.”
Golden West led 12-6 heading to the ninth inning of the first game before Santa Rosa rallied for four runs.
Five Bear Cubs had multiple-hit games — Scheiner (3 RBI), Charlie Magana (RBI), Nagata, West (RBI) and Bart (2 RBIs).