College of the Canyons picked up an important conference win vs. visiting Citrus College on Tuesday, winning 15-5 to take the first game in a three-game series behind seven strong innings from freshman starter Jacob Lopez.
Canyons (23-11, 13-2) scored six runs in the first inning and added two more in the second to chase Citrus starting pitcher Peter Eltapence after just one and 1/3 innings.
Calvin Estrada got the scoring started for COC with an RBI-single that set the table for Chris May's three-run blast in the next at bat. Two batters later James Scanlan launched a two-run home run to right field and the Cougars were in control 6-0.
The second inning brought more of the same, with Cole Kleszcz continuing his scorching streak at the plate with his state-leading 15th home run of the season.
Kleszcz, who is batting .405 on the year, has now homered in seven of nine games this month to go with a 17-game hit streak that dates back to March 14.
On Tuesday, the freshman went 4-for-6 with two doubles, three runs and four RBIs. He finished the game a triple shy of the cycle.
Citrus (18-15, 8-5-1) eventually got on the board with a three-run shot from shortstop Marcos Campos that made it 8-3. Campos, who proved to be a thorn in the side for COC, homered again in the eighth and finished the game 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
As a team, Citrus only recorded six hits in the game with the Owls struggling to do much against Lopez (4-2). The lefty struck out six batters and walked two, with the only damage coming by way of Campos' first home run.
Lopez has now won back-to-back games after defeating Merced College 4-3 back on April 11.
The Cougars also scored runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings, forcing the Owls to burn through four pitchers in the game.
May finished 4-for-6 with two runs and four RBIs. Scanlan went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run and four RBIs.
The Cougars are ranked No. 8 in Southern California accoring to the most recent statewide coaches poll. COC is also No. 17 in the state in the California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) State Top 20 Baseball poll.
Canyons and Citrus will continue their series at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in Glendora. The action will then shift back to Cougar Field at 1 p.m. on Saturday.