The Oak Leaf

Bear Cubs head into Big 8 season

The Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team looks on as it battles against Cañada College Feb. 27 in Redwood City. The Bear Cubs lost 12-5 for only their second loss of the 2016 season.

Will Mathis

The Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team looks on as it battles against Cañada College Feb. 27 in Redwood City. The Bear Cubs lost 12-5 for only their second loss of the 2016 season.

Will Mathis, Assistant Sports Editor

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After suffering its first loss since Jan. 30, the Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team [11-2] heads into Big 8 Conference play with high expectations.

The Bear Cubs lost to Cañada College 12-5 Feb. 27, snapping their 10-game win streak. Starting pitcher Alec Rennard allowed six runs in just one inning of work.

“As a starter you’re not allowed to do that,” Rennard said. “To keep winning you have to stay hungry every game. You have to keep working hard. Right out of the gates they jumped on me personally.”

The loss may be a blessing in disguise for the Bear Cubs as they advance into conference play this week. It will motivate and refocus the Bear Cubs heading into the two month long conference season.

“We came out and had a good week of practice,” said reliever Jackson Ketron. “When something like that happens it is important to put it behind you and get things moving in the right direction.”

The Big 8 Conference could be the best conference in California.

“We’re going to have a dog fight on our hands with all these guys,” said assistant coach Tom Francois.

Standout teams in the Big 8 Conference include San Joaquin Delta College, Cosumnes River College and Diablo Valley College.

“In the Big 8, everybody can beat everybody,” Rennard said.

The Bear Cubs continue to boast one of the best offenses in California. They rank in the top 10 in runs scored, RBIs, walks, strikeouts, batting average and on-base percentage.

“We are getting tougher at the plate and are continuing to progress,” said shortstop Jake Scheiner. “This loss definitely motivated each individual to get better and stay more consistent.”

Designated hitter Matt Bone has provided a much-needed spark to the Bear Cubs lineup after losing Anthony Bender to an injury. Bone is hitting .439, with 14 RBIs and 12 runs scored.

“It’s a good problem to have when Anthony gets back,” Francois said. “Where are you going to put Bone? We can’t have that bat out of the lineup.”

Bone could see playing time in right field when Bender returns.

The Bear Cub bullpen has continued its success this year without reliever Evan Hill. Hill pitched in three of the Bear Cubs’ first five games. He recorded two saves, pitched eight innings,  and allowed just five hits and struck out seven.

“When he went down we definitely took a blow,” Ketron said. “But we have enough depth on our pitching staff to where if a guy does go down we have another guy ready to get the job done.”

Ketron is one of those guys. He has pitched in five of the past seven games. This season he has struck out 12 batters in nine innings and allowed three runs.

“Ketron has really stepped up and started throwing strikes with multiple pitches,” Hill said. “He’s been doing a good job of getting guys out.”

The Bear Cubs begin conference play at 2:30 p.m. March 10 against Diablo Valley College at Cook Sypher Field.

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Bear Cubs head into Big 8 season