Vaqueros Slide Their Way In To Victory

Susan Aksu

The Vaquero baseball team guided by Coach Chris Cicuto is batting it’s way on to WSC victory for the fifth time in GCC history.
The team of 25, only eight of whom are returning sophomores and the rest freshmen, have a 10-14 record in the Western State Conference with only nine games left before the playoffs.

The Vaqueros had been on a 4-0 winning streak at the beginning of the season until Pierce College ended it with a 9-8 victory over them. Two games later, the Vaqueros were once again defeated by Pierce College 11-2. The Vaqueros had been on a 4-0 winning streak at the beginning of the season until Pierce College ended it with a 9-8 victory over them. Two games later, the Vaqueros were once again defeatedby Pierce 11-2. Beating Pierce College seems to be of mutual importance for the enire team, however their game at Pierce on Tuesday proved to be disappointing for the Vaqueros with a 9-1 loss.

“The two top teams in our conference are Pierce and Bakersfield,” said freshman pitcher Ryan Perez. “They’re usually the team to beat.”

The Vaqueros were unsuccessful against Bakersfield the first time they played them on Feb. 21 falling 5-1, but the second time they [Vaqueros] were victorious winning against them 8-6 on March 1.

“If the Vaqueros compete with a sense of urgency all nine innings, I would put my money on the Vaqueros each and every game,” said Cicuto.

Perez also mentioned the need to compete for all nine of the innings. For example, during the Feb. 24 Pierce game; the Vaqueros were leading 8-0 until the last half of the ninth inning when Pierce managed to rack up nine points.

The goal of the Vaqueros this year is to win at least 20 games, a mission which has not been accomplished since 2000. In 2006 the Vaqueros were 9-33 in season and in 2005 they were 13-25. They are strong when it comes to speed and defense, but according to Cicuto, in order to break their record they need to work on timely hitting.

Perez said, they [Vaqueros] tend to get too comfortable and relaxed after they start off strong.

“The moment we fall behind we start to panic and make careless decisions, which cost us the game,” he said.
“We had our ups and downs, but we’re a very talented team and we should peak this week,” said sophomore pitcher, Nadav Poringer.

Freshman Chris Arredondo was a pitching asset for the Vaqueros before breaking his wrist during a tournament at Mt. San Antonio College. He had pitched a 1.2 ERA (earned runs average) and a 2-1 win-loss average out of the eight games he started in.

“Our guys are going to have to step up and pick up the production to make up for our loss,” said Cicuto.

The pitcher’s wrist is still recovering and is expected to sit out for the rest of the season.Richard Barret also pitched well with a 3.08 ERA in all games combined. However, during conference, his pitching slipped to a 6.52.

Base running for the Vaqueros has also been strong this season, with a total of 77 stolen bases. Sophomore Brian Bistagne has the lead for the most stolen bases with 20 in the season. The shortstop also leads with the highest batting average of .387 and remains consistent in both conference and tournaments. Bistagne also has 40 RBI, the most for the Vaqueros for the season. In conference, Andy Marquardt has the leading batting average of .391, close to a perfect .400 and catcher Ben Torrie has an average of .313.

The team prepares itself through intercollegiate games, and club games. The rigorous practices are at Stengal Field Monday through Saturday during the season and Monday through Thursday during the fall.

“Our team chemistry is really good. The guys have a great bond,” said sophomore Brian Ward. “We all play for each other when we’re out there and we don’t let each other down.”

Cicuto says he has been coaching at GCC since 2000 for two reasons; one being the quality of the athletic department. He feels that the support from the coaches, as well as their interests in the athletes and programs, is “one of a kind” and a unique department. Another reason is the players he coaches. He is assisted by Steve Coots, David Lopez, Anthony Chevrier and Rick Marino.

“Helping our players transform into men, on and off the field, is very rewarding,” said Cicuto.

Several players from the Vaqueros have plans to continue with their baseball careers after GCC. Perez hopes to transfer to Loyola Marymount to continue playing baseball on their Division I team.

“I can never imagine myself not playing baseball. It’s become a part of me and without it, I’m naked,” said Perez. Perez has been playing baseball since age 10 and has played every position, but says that pitching is his strength. He is currently the closing pitcher for GCC.

Poringer has plans on transferring to a Division II school in California and Ward hopes to get drafted by next year onto a California-based team.

“Our coaching philosophy is to have a 100 percent transfer rate of all eligible student athletes. If our players take care of their priorities in the classroom, we can find them a university to continue their baseball careers,” said Cicuto.