No. 3 College of the Canyons dropped its first round California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California Regional playoff series, falling 2-1 to No. 14 Santa Ana College at Cougar Field over the weekend.
Canyons (28-14, 17-3) entered the postseason as champions of the Western State Conference (WSC), East Division, but could not get past the Dons (28-15, 10-11), who won the opener 10-5 on Friday and closed out the Cougars 9-6 in game three. COC posted a 4-1 victory in game two on Saturday morning.
The Cougars also held a 3-1 lead through the first five innings of Saturday afternoon's finale, before ultimately being undone by seven errors and five unearned runs.
Canyons was unable to muster much offense in game one. Sophomore Kris Keach supplied a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, and later brought home another run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth to close the gap at 5-2.
The Dons then proceeded to score four unanswered runs, before COC battled back with three in the ninth for a final 10-5 score.
Keach finished the game 1-for-3 with his two RBIs. Sophomore Cole Kleszcz and Wes Felber both had three hits each. Freshman starting pitcher Jacob Lopez (4-3) took the loss after allowing seven runs in seven innings.
Playing as the designated away team in game two, COC was able to get an early run on Chris May's solo home run in the top of the second inning. The Dons then tied the game at 1-1 with a manufactured run later in the inning.
COC sophomore pitcher Justin Dehn (6-2) was spectacular throughout, tossing his second complete game of the year and allowing just four hits and three walks. He also struck out five along the way.
Ivan Lomeli walked to bring home a run in the seventh, and Chris May homered in the eighth, this time a two-run shot, to help secure the 4-1 victory. May finished the game 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs.
Canyons used the long ball to its advantage once again in game three, this time with freshman Anthony Medina teeing off on a solo home run in the bottom of the first to give the Cougars an early 1-0 lead.
Santa Ana briefly tied the game at 1-1 with an unearned run in the third inning, but the Cougars answered back with home runs from Felber and Anthony Lepre in the fourth and fifth frames.
Still trailing 4-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Lepre was able to tie the game at 4-4 with his second home run of the day.
That momentum would be short lived, however, with Santa Ana plating three runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to open up a comfortable advantage.
Not done yet, Lepre connected on his third home run of the day in the bottom of the ninth in what turned out to be the sophomore's last at-bat as a Cougar. He finished the game 4-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs scored.
Lepre's 15 home runs this season rank second in the state behind Kleszcz' total of 18.
COC sophomore Chase Wheatcroft (8-1) got that start and allowed four runs, but just one earned, in his six and 1/3 innings on the mound.
Connor Dreyer (3-2) suffered the loss after allowing three runs, two earned, in his one and 1/3 innings.
Santa Ana will advance to face No. 1 Orange Coast College (33-9) in a best-of-three series scheduled to get underway on Friday.