Story by Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
SAN MARCOS, Calif. — No. 10 College of the Canyons was eliminated from the postseason by No. 7 Palomar College in a 2-1 series during the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California Regional playoffs.
Canyons (28-14, 16-4) won Friday's series opener by a 5-2 score, behind another strong performance from sophomore starting pitcher Jacob Lopez. The southpaw scattered six hits of seven and 2/3 innings while striking out nine batters. He allowed two runs, one earned, and issued two walks in what turned out to be the final start of Lopez' Cougar career.
In Saturday's rematch the Cougars fell behind 4-0 in the second inning before storming back to take an 8-5 lead into the eighth inning. But the Comets would not go away, scoring six unanswered runs to win the game 11-8 and even the series at 1-1.
COC reliever Connor Dreyer took the loss. Starter Jackson Cunningham lasted five and 1/3 innings but struggled to find his rhythm. He walked five batters and allowed five runs while striking out six batters.
Trace Eldridge scored three times, Blake Doremus drove in two runs and Rodrguez finished 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs, but it wasn't enough to take down a Palomar lineup that pounded out 16 hits and overcame four fielding errors.
Thirty minutes later the two teams were back in it for the third and final game.
This time, COC fell behind 7-0 after three frames. The Cougars didn't get a run home until a three-run outburst in the sixth that came via Ryan Mendoza's baes-clearing three-run double.
Sparked by the big hit, COC came back to score twice more in the seventh and punctuated the comeback attempt with an RBI-single by Calvin Estrada that tied the game at 7-7 in the top of the eighth.
That line held true until Comets' pinch hitter Conor McKenna was able to single home the winning run for an 8-7 Palomar walk-off victory.
Cougar reliever Justin King took the hard-luck loss in a game that saw COC head coach Chris Cota turn to his bullpen early. Canyons starter Eddie Rosales lasted just two and 2/3 innings and was charged with six earned runs. Chase Marcoe and Devin Judge combined for five and 1/3 innings of shutout relief to help COC get back in the ballgame.
Palomar (28-15, 17-7) will next face No. 3 Saddleback College in the CCCAA SoCal Super Regional Round.
Canyons ended the regular season a game back of Glendale College in the Western State Conference, East Division standings and qualified for the postseason for the third straight year.
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.
— Photo by Tim Dugan/COC Sports Information