Eagles Beat Marin 6-4 to Take The Series

April 9, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           Contact: Janelle Bird, Director of Community Relations & Communication 
April 9, 2018                                       Phone/Email: 707.468.3012/jbird@mendocino.edu


By Joe Langstaff

On Sunday, in a makeup of a game originally scheduled on Friday but rained out, Mendocino College Eagles baseball team followed up Thursday’s 5-4 win over College of Marin on the road with a 6-4 win at home to take the 3-game series 2-1. With the win, the Eagles’ Bay Valley Conference record improved to 8-4 and their overall record to 18-12. It was the Eagles’ first series victory over Marin in the last several seasons. The Mariners, suffering their second loss in a row, saw their conference record dip to 10-2 and their overall record to 21-9. They still hold sole possession of first place with three weeks remaining in conference play.

Bunched behind Marin in the standings are Los Medanos at 8-2, Solano at 8-3, the Eagles 8-4 and Laney 6-5.

Yuba, Napa Valley and Contra Costa Colleges make up the bottom tier of the conference with 2-9, 1-7 and 1-11 records respectively. 

The Eagles play a 3-game series this week with Napa Valley. The following week they play a 3-game series with Contra Costa and then wrap up conference play the week after with a 3-game series with Yuba. 

This week’s games are at Napa on Tuesday, at Mendocino on Thursday, then back at Napa on Saturday, weather permitting.

Though not an absolutely a make-or-break situation for the Eagles, they needed to do well in the series vs. first-place Marin to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.

After suffering a heart-breaking 4-3 loss in extra innings at home against the Mariners on Tuesday in the first game of the series, the Eagles backs were up against the wall.

The 5-4 win over the Mariners in Game 2 of the series in Rohnert Park at Sonoma State on Thursday was big for the Eagles. But a loss of Game 3 would have taken much of the luster off the Game 2 win and probably put a crimp in the Eagles’ playoff hopes. 

Playing their fourth game in six days, the Eagles had to look to their pen for a starter, their three regular starters having already pitched in the prior three games. Sophomore left-hander Andrew Cisneros got the call.

Cisneros had pitched 2 innings in relief on Wednesday. His longest stints on the mound had been a couple of 3-inning appearances in earlier games. The Eagles coaching’ staff was hoping that he could give them at least 3 innings on Sunday. He ended up giving them much more than that.

In the top of the first inning, he got some immediate help from his defense. The Marin leadoff batter dropped down a bunt, trying to beat it out for a hit. Catcher Tyler Carrasco pounced on the ball and threw an off-balance strike to first for the out.

The Mariners did hit three balls hard in the inning, but only one went for a hit, a single by the second batter, the other two resulting in a fly ball to right and a liner to the second basemen.

Against Marin starter right-hander Dominic Burke in the bottom of the inning, the Eagles got no hits but made Burke throw 23 pitches, with the Eagles drawing 2 walks.

The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, getting 2 hits, a hit batter and a stolen base. But Cisneros limited the damage, stranding runners at second and third, getting the third out on a strikeout.

The Eagles went down in order in the bottom of the second inning.

The Mariners leadoff batter reached on an infield hit in the third. After a liner to right for the first out, the runner was called out, running into the Eagles second baseman Austin Jackson trying to field a ground ball hit by the next batter. The umpire ruled runner interference.

Each player was shaken up by the violent collision. They were examined by the trainer, with both stayed in the game. Jackson would come out of the game after playing 6 innings.

A liner to center by the Mariners Adam Hussain, one of the few at bats in the series in which he did not get a hit, retired the side.

In the bottom of the third, the Eagles broke through in big way, starting with a leadoff single by Carrasco, his high hopper tipping of the glove of the leaping third baseman.

Carrasco advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single to center by left fielder Carter Kimberly. Kimberley, thinking of stretching the hit into a double, was caught in a rundown between first and second and tagged out for the first out of the inning.

Next up, Jackson singled to right. After a fly ball to center for the second out, first baseman Jay Guerrero took a 4-pitch walk to put runners on first and second.

A wild pitch moved Jackson to third, from where he scored on a singled grounded up the middle by third baseman Joe Brazil, the Eagles taking 2-1 lead.

Next up, DH Sam Penning worked a walk to load the bases, bringing up shortstop Karter Koch. Koch lined a 1-1 pitch to right center to drive in two more runs, the Eagle’ increasing to 4-1.

With runners on first and third and a 1-2 count on the next batter, the Eagle attempted the delay steal, the runner on first breaking, drawing a throw to second, with the runner breaking from third, but being thrown out at home for the third out.

Cisneros was back out on the mound in the top of the fourth. Marin got a one-out hit and then a walk. But the runner on second was called out on close play at third on a steal attempt for the second out.

An attempted bunt for hit, resulted in an errant throw to first, putting runners on second and third. But Cisneros stranded both runners, getting an inning-ending ground ball to short.

In the bottom of the inning, the Eagles leadoff hitter right fielder Malik Bonds was hit by a pitch and sacrificed to second. But he was stranded there when two ground balls to the left side retired the side.

Cisneros was back on the mound for a fifth inning of work. It was his best inning yet, retiring the side in order on two fly balls to left sandwiched around a ground ball to second.

The Eagles went down in order in their half of the fifth, all on ground balls.

Still on the mound in the top of the sixth, Cisneros gave up a single to Marin’s leadoff hitter Hussain. He stole second. The next two batters were retired on a fly ball to right and a popup to first. 

A walk put runners on first and second. They were both stranded when the next batter, the last one Cisneros would face in the game, flew out to center.

In his longest outing of the season, Cisneros’ line read 6 innings pitched, 1 run allowed, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Eagles managed only a one-out single to center by Koch.

Sophomore right-hander Jared Hibbeln took the mound for the Eagles in the top of the seventh, his team still leading 4-1.

The leadoff batter was retired on fly ball to center. But a single, a stolen base, an error and a walk put runners on the corners. A grounder to second for the second out drove in the runner from third. A popup to third retired the side, with the score now 4-2.

After a fly ball to left for the first out in the bottom of the seventh, Jaymin Graveman, who came in to play second in the top of the inning, lined out to short.

Center fielder Jacob Alveridez grounded a ball into the hole on the right side. The ball was knocked down by the second baseman, picked up and thrown to first too late.

The Eagles caught a break when Guerrero, the next batter, hit a pop fly between home plate and the pitcher’s mound. The ball fell untouched between four Mariners., Guerrero reaching first, being credited with a hit. Alveridez moved up to second.

Time was called and a conference held on the mound with the Marin coach. 

Next up, on the first pitch, Brazil blasted a long fly ball to deep left field. A fairly brisk breeze was blowing from right to left. The wind may have knocked the ball down and/or given the left fielder trouble. 

Whatever the case, the ball didn’t clear the fence, but it also didn’t find the glove of the fielder, instead falling untouched near the warning track.

Both runners scored, with Brazil pulling into second base with the standup double, the Eagles’ lead now 6-2.

Penning walked, but the side was retired when the next batter popped up to third.

Hibbeln walked the leadoff batter in the top of the eighth, but retired the next three batters; two fly balls to center sandwiched a strikeout. The Eagles went down in order in their half of the inning.

Sophomore right-hander Turner Gustafson came in to pitch the top of the ninth. With the Eagles up by 4 runs, it wasn’t a save opportunity, but a chance to close out the game.

Given what happened in the 9th innings of the two previous games of the series, it was not all that surprising what transpired in the 9th inning of this game. 

Marin’s leadoff batter singled over third. The next batter flew out to right for the first out.

A wild pitch moved the runner up to second. He then stole third. The next batter walked to put runners at the corners, still with one out.

A single drove in a run, leaving runners at first and second. The Eagles held a conference on the mound.

A single by Hussain, his 10th hit in the 3-game series, drove in another run to make the score 6-4. 

The next batter walked on a 3-2 count to load the bases, still with just one out and the tying run now on second and the go-ahead run on first. 

On a 1-1 count, the next batter hit a grounder to Brazil at third. Brazil fielded the ball cleanly, threw home to Carrasco for a force, with Carrasco wheeling and throwing to Guerrero at first, just in time on a close play to complete the 5-2-3 game-ending double play, the Eagles winning the game 6-4.

Coach Bird acknowledged that the series closely contested, and came down to plays being made or not made. “You could make an argument that either team could have won every game. Siting an example, he mentioned the popup not caught by the Marin catcher. “If they catch that popup, they (Marin) probably win that game. They didn’t. Then Brazil hits the double.”

Another key factor in the game was the pitching of Cisneros. Bird agree that “he (Cisneros) did a good job. We thought we would maybe get two or three innings out of him. He threw 8 1/3 innings this week.

“Marin has some good hitters. We thought that if we threw him (Cisneros) it would slow their bats down. He’s a soft lefty and he has a changeup. That’s kind of what happened. It slowed their bats down. He was effective against them because they probably face their pitching staff in practice. Those guys have velocity. I think it was a good matchup for us.”  

With the Eagles now having 18 wins on the season, there are 9 more conference games left to play and possibly 1 makeup non-conference game. The Eagles are still in contention for post-season playoff berth.

The top 2 teams in each conference get automatic berths in the playoffs. The other berths are determined by RPI rankings. 

The Eagles are battling three other conference teams for the second place slot, or perhaps even the No. 1 slot, if Marin should falter down the stretch. The 2-1 edge in head-to-head play with Mariners definitely carries some weight.  

The Eagles should move up in the next Northern California baseball coaches poll Top 20 Poll. There are also among the top 20 teams in the California community college RPI rankings.

PDF and Photos attached

(Photo credits – Joe Langstaff)

Photo 1 – Eagles pitcher Andrew Cisneros (24,) shown throwing a pitch in the game vs. College of Marin. Cisneros, normally a reliever, started in this game and pitched 6 innings, allowing only 1 run and 7 hits. He was the winning pitcher in the Eagles’ 6-4 win.