Excellent pitching not enough to save Bear Cubs’ season

Grayson Edgemon, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team concluded its season with a 2-1 loss in extra innings on the back of a five-hit game against Los Medanos College in the second-round playoffs matchup Friday at Cook Sypher Field.

For game two of the series the Bear Cubs were slotted as the away side and batted first.

The game took an unexpected turn when Santa Rosa’s starting pitcher Noah Rennard pulled his left hamstring during warmups before the bottom of the second inning.

“I went to the bullpen to do some extra stretching and I felt a pop in my left leg. When I went out to warm up in the second inning, I felt tightness in my left hamstring and it ended up turning into sharp pain,” Rennard said.

He could not play for the rest of the game and relief pitcher Jacob Marquez took the mound.

“It was pretty surprising [when Rennard left], my thought process was that I had a job to do. That job was to represent our team and what we do here. What we do is compete for the guy right next to us,” Marquez said.

Marquez pitched through the next five and a half innings with two strikeouts and no runs allowed.

The Bear Cubs scored first in the top of the fourth inning when shortstop PJ Raines grounded out to second, but right fielder Jo Bynum advanced from third base to take the 1-0 lead.  

Santa Rosa held a one-score lead until the bottom of the seventh inning. Marquez left two runners on base with two outs when he the Bear Cubs replaced him with their closer Devin Kirby.

On Kirby’s first pitch, the Mustangs batter hit a single to drive in a tying run that equalized the score 1-1.  

The score remained tied leading to extra innings. The Bear Cubs, who hadn’t scored since the fourth, could not score in the top of the 10th. With runners on first and second, and two outs in the bottom of the inning, the Mustangs’ batter hit a walk-off single to left field that sent the runner on second home to win the game 2-1 and end Santa Rosa’s season.

The throw, from left fielder Peter Torres, almost beat the runner to home plate for an out, but the throw hit the baserunner and didn’t make it to the catcher Ethan Payne.

“This was a very special group of guys, they were like the 2016 team. I think these guys were even more cohesive, that’s why it stings. It hurts to say this is our last game,” said assistant coach Tom Francois. “It’s the teams that get hot that move on and we chose a bad time to not get hot.”

The Bear Cubs finished 18-6 in the Big 8 and 33-11 overall.

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