Vaqs Slip in Season Closer Against Number One Cougars

Jake Madrigal

With high hopes, the Vaquero baseball team entered its last game of the season on May 1 at home, against the College of the Canyons Cougars, but unable to pull through in the end, the Vaqs fell to a 8-5 loss.

Despite the loss, in support of his players, head coach Chris Cicuto said, “I’m proud of our performance today. We played hard, but just couldn’t come through in the end.”

As an unusually large crowd began to pour in on this last game of the season it looked as if the Vaqs has a good shot at taking down the number one ranked Cougars.

Entering the bottom of the second inning with zeros on the board for both teams, the Vaqs filled the bases quickly with two base hits and a walk, leaving sophomore Chris Arredondo the chance to draw blood first. Failing to score with a ground out to first, the Vaqs continued the 0-0 battle.

This did not drag the Vaqs down. Bouncing back from his failed at bat, Arredondo made an outstanding diving catch in center field to bring the Vaqs back to the plate.

Leading off the third for the Vaqs was sophomore Ellis “Elbow” Bowen who pumped up the team with a solid base hit, followed by freshman Lazaro Fantas’ double that allowed Bowen to score, which was followed, by another double from sophomore John Degomez, sending Fantas in to score.

The Vaqs held and advanced their lead in the fourth by stopping the Cougars with bases loaded sending them back to the field. With the momentum on their side the Vaqs backed up their success in the third by scoring two more runs from two more doubles by Fanta and Degomez, causing the Cougars to pull their pitcher and bring in relief.

With the crowd on their side the Vaqs continued to play good defense and backed it up with some good pitching from Barret.

Just as things were looking good for the Vaqs, the Cougars proved why they were number one by scoring two on base hits caused by two errors, followed by a three-run homer by Cougars sophomore outfielder Brian Charnock. In a matter of seconds the Cougars were both back in the game and in the lead with the score 5-4.

This didn’t seem to bring down the Vaqs. They bounced back with two base hits by Bowen and freshman Michael Mendoza on errors by the Cougars, allowing Bowen to score one more run to tie the game back up at 5-5.

As the Vaqs looked like they still were in the game, Mendoza was tagged out at home plate on what the crowd and team felt was a bad call by the umpire.

Emotions flared as they entered the seventh with hopes clenched tightly in their hands. But the hopes weren’t enough as they were shut down by great Cougar defense in the field with a double play forcing the Vaqs to once again take the field.

Still in the game, the Vaqs hopes began to fade when Cougar Tyler Oldham hit a solo home run, pumping up his team for what was to become the game-deciding inning.

Entering the ninth inning with a 6-5 score on the board, the Cougars unleashed their bats at the plate again with runners on second and third, smashing a hit to deep right field crushing the hopes of the Vaqs allowing two runs to score bring the Cougars on top with an 8-5 lead.

Unable to do much of anything in the bottom of the ninth, the Vaqs began to see their season flash before their eyes as the last game was coming to an end.

“We made some errors that really hurt us,” Cicuto said, looking back at the fifth-inning disaster that let the Cougars back in the game.

“We had a rough season but I’m proud of the kids today. Barret pitched amazing and really gave people a look at what they’re going to be seeing in the next level,” said Cicuto. “Now all we have left is to prepare for next season and see who will stay and who we will let go.”

The Vaqs ended the season with a 17-24 record, but walked away with their heads held high.