By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
College of the Canyons got back in the win column on Saturday, riding a four-run fourth inning to an eventual 8-3 victory and series split with visiting Santa Ana College.
Canyons (2-2) drew first blood with a pair of manufactured runs to take a 2-0 first inning lead. Eddie Rodriguez put COC on the board with a sacrifice fly that brought leadoff man Corbin Williams home to score. One batter later, Blake Doremus got another runner home on a hard hit ball to second base.
The Dons (3-1) answered back with an RBI-single off Canyons starter Jackson Cunningham in the second, but weren't able to do much more.
Cunningham pitched out of jams in both the third and fourth innings, forcing the Dons to strand a runner at third base in both frames.
Ivan Lomeli then sparked another Cougars' scoring rally in the fourth with an RBI groundout. Later in the inning Trace Eldridge and Rodriguez put together back-to-back RBI singles as Canyons took a commanding 6-1 lead.
Eldridge would add a solo home run in the seventh inning to finish the day 3-for-4 with three runs and a pair of RBIs. Rodriguez was 1-1 with a walk, sacrifice fly and three RBIs.
Cunningham started the fifth but quickly found himself in another jam. A two-run home run and three hit batsmen later and COC head coach Chris Cota was forced to remove the right-hander with a 6-3 lead and two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Cunningham allowed three runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out five batters in four and 2/3 innings of work.
COC reliever Justin King (1-0) came in and promptly recorded the final out of the inning to preserve the Cougars' 6-2 lead. King pitched another inning of scoreless relief to eventually be credited with the win.
King was followed out of the bullpen by COC receivers Anthony Gomez and Jarrett Poh who combined to close things out the rest of the way. Gomez allowed one hit in an inning of work. Poh struck out two and surrendered three hits over his two innings.
After the Eldridge home run in the seventh, the Cougars added an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth with Ryan Mendoza coming around to score on an infield throwing error by the Dons.
The win allowed Canyons to even its home and away series with the Dons. Santa Ana had previously defeated COC 5-4 on Thursday. The two teams also met in the opening round of the 2017 CCCAA SoCal Regional playoffs, with the Dons able to advance with a 2-1 series victory.
Canyons will continue its current four-game homestand with a Tuesday afternoon matchup with Rio Hondo College (2-3). First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.