A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SRJC Baseball dominates home opener led by three home runs from Zane Bennett

Nick Vides
Bear Cubs outfielder Zane Bennett racks up three home runs against Chabot College, shown here celebrating an RBI against the Sierra College Wolverines at Cook Sypher Field on March 8, 2022 in Santa Rosa.

The Santa Rosa Junior College Bear Cubs put on a power showcase led by three homers and 10 RBIs from Zane Bennett in a 19-6 win in their home opener vs Chabot College on Saturday, Jan. 27.

The Bear Cubs got off to a rocky start in the top of the first, with starter Eli Yamanaka surrendering three runs on two hits, a walk and three hit batters. Yamanaka nearly escaped with no damage on a controversial check swing that could’ve been called strike three, before a hit drove in two of the three runs. 

Reliever Jordan Giacomini took over for Yamanaka in the second inning, striking out the side. He went four innings allowing only one hit and one run, striking out six. 

“Giacomini did a solid job in four innings pitched to get the win,” said head coach Damon Neidlinger. “ [It’s] significant when you have a rough start on the mound, give up three in the first, and have Jordan come in and pitch well.”

After a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the bottom of the first and scoreless second, The Bear Cubs roared back in the third inning putting up five runs on a line drive grand slam from left fielder Zane Bennett. He’s playing in his first home game since 2022 after missing all of last season with an injury.

“Oh man, it feels great,” said Bennett while reflecting on his team’s win.“I missed competing and playing with my brothers so much.”

Catcher Aidan Sakai immediately followed Bennett with a home run of his own, bringing the score to 6-3. Chabot got a run back in the top of the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Raoul Fabian Jr.

The Bear Cubs continued to pour it on in the bottom of the inning putting up six runs on a sacrifice fly from right fielder Michael O’Daniel, RBI singles from first baseman Josh Martin and designated hitter Dalen Tinsley, and capped off by a 3-run opposite-field homer from Bennett, his second of the game up to that point. 

Bennett spoke about his calm approach that contributed to his success.

“I think today was different because I tried to see the ball as best as I could and just oversimplified my approach. I stayed relaxed, felt easy, and used my breath to keep me in the present moment,” he said.

Coach Neidlinger spoke about the unsung contributions from top to bottom by other players.

“Quite a few players had big days in other ways. Alex Leopard was 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBIs, and a great drag bunt for a hit. Aidan Lombardi, 1-for-1 with five walks, Tyler Nordyke, 2-for-3, a double, hit by pitch, two walks, and a few other players with near-perfect getting on base days,” Neidlinger said.

Bear Cubs outfielder Alex Leopard goes 3-4 with one home run against Chabot, shown here celebrating a hit against Cañada College on Thursday, May 11, 2023 in Santa Rosa. (Nick Vides)

Center fielder Alex Leopard hit a towering 2-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning. Chabot answered with two of their own in the sixth, making it 14-6.

Bennett hit his third home run of the game, a 3-run shot two innings later, increasing the lead to 17-6. 

“I knew it was gone when I hit it,” Bennett said. “I knew the pitcher couldn’t locate anything and I was sitting on a 2-0 fastball. After I hit it I kind of admired it and didn’t really think about anything, just saw it in the present moment.”

The Bear Cubs got quality innings from pitchers Christian Schiavo, Luke Dillon, and Colin Medeiros to close out the game. At the end of the onslaught, SRJC won 19-6, bouncing back from a tough loss in their season opener vs Chabot the day prior.

Both teams’ pitchers showed major control issues in this January matchup. Chabot walked 15 and hit seven batters, while Santa Rosa walked five and hit five.

The Bear Cubs will look to carry their momentum into Tuesday’s matchup at West Valley College.

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About the Contributors
Oliver Kindt
Oliver Kindt, Reporter
Oliver Kindt (he/him) is a journalism major in his second semester at SRJC and first at The Oak Leaf. He is an aspiring sports writer who will be covering primarily baseball and softball this spring.
Nick Vides
Nick Vides, Photo-Editor
Nicholas “Nick” Vides (he/him) Is a seasoned breaking news reporter dedicated to making sure every shutter click of his camera captures a moment worth sharing. Nick's itch for chasing fires has kept him busy over the past seven years, covering every major fire event in Northern California from the Paradise Fire to the Caldor Fire. Nick currently splits his time as a photojournalist with The Oak Leaf and as a Contract Photographer with The Press Democrat. He has more than nine years of experience with photography, has been director of photography for multiple short films with the SRJC Media Arts Center, directed numerous student-led broadcasts with his Media 19 class, and interned for The Sarah and Vinnie Show on Alice 97.3. In the little free time left, he works for Highway 12 Winery in Sonoma, California as a Cellar Hand.  

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