Rain Doesn’t Dampen Bear Cubs’ Season Opener

Will Mathis , Staff Writer

Strong pitching, timely hitting and stellar defense led the Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team to an 8-3 win in the season opener against Chabot College Jan. 28 at Cook Sypher Field. 

Charlie Magana’s bases-clearing double in a one-run game in the bottom of the fifth inning gave the Bear Cubs all the cushion they needed behind the arms of starting pitcher Alec Rennard and reliever Evan Hill. 

Rennard ran into trouble in the first inning of the game, which was delayed 30 minutes from the start due to rain. Two singles put runners on first and third with two outs for Chabot, but one of Rennard’s six strikeouts kept the Gladiators off the board. 

“My stuff felt good,” the sophomore right hander said. “I was able to get ahead in the count with multiple pitches.” 

Rennard threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of his 24 batters faced and allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings pitched.

However, Rennard didn’t do it without some help from his teammates. Most notably from left fielder Mitch West, who produced the play of the game in the top of the fourth inning. 

The Gladiators produced three straight hits to get the game within one. Then, with two outs and the tying run on second, West laid out towards the left field wall and made an inning-ending, over-the-shoulder catch to preserve the Bear Cubs’ lead. 

“I saw it in the air and booked it back,” West said. “About halfway back I knew I had a shot at it. The center fielder [Bryce Nagata] yelled at me to lay out, so I did.” 

The play left Rennard speechless on the mound. “I was prepared for extra bases, and then the ball disappeared into his glove,” he said. 

The Bear Cubs’ defense didn’t commit any errors in the game, while the Gladiators made six errors out in the field. 

The Bear Cubs’ offense had 10 hits, three of them came from George Foster who also stole a base and scored a run. 

The Bear Cubs scored the game’s first run as a result of a two-out throwing error by Chabot’s third baseman. 

In the bottom of the second Bryce Nagata and Anthony Bender both had RBI singles for SRJC to make the score 3-0. 

Foster tacked on two more runs for the Bear Cubs in the eighth inning after another Chabot fielding blunder in right field, when the weather turned dark, frigid and misty. 

Hill, who came in to relieve Rennard, never gave the Gladiators a chance to get back in the game. He pitched perfect seventh and eighth innings. After allowing a walk and a single to start the ninth, he struck out two and induced a pop out to end the game. 

SRJC and Chabot will square off again at 1 p.m. Jan. 1 at Chabot College in Hayward.