No. 16 Canyons Falls 5-1 at No. 2 Glendale in Series Opener
By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
GLENDALE — No. 16 College of the Canyons starter Kyle Cop went toe-to-toe with No. 2 Glendale College ace Aaron Suval for better than six innings at Stengel Field on Friday, largely limiting the Vaqueros at the plate until a late surge allowed for a 5-1 series-opening victory for the home side in the first round of the CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoffs.
Canyons (21-21) scored its only run in the fifth inning when Alex Ballesteros scampered home after an errant throw from Glendale catcher Isaiah Velazco back to Suval briefly got away, resulting in a play at the plate and a 1-0 Cougar lead.
Ballesteros had doubled to lead off the inning, one of just four Cougar hits on the day and the only of the extra-base variety. Nevertheless, Canyons managed to get the lead-off man aboard on five occasions, including both the seventh and eighth innings, but was only able to cash in on the Ballesteros sequence.
Cop did all he could to keep the Glendale (35-6) lineup off the scoreboard, tossing six and 1/3 innings and scattering six hits to go with a pair of walks.
He struck out four batters with the only damage done coming in the form of an RBI-triple off the bat of Brandon Nguyen that found its way into the right-field corner and tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth.
In that same inning, Cougar shortstop Mikey Kane turned in the defensive play of the game when he made a quick decision and sharp throw on a ground ball to rifle down Nguyen at home plate and keep the game knotted at 1-1.
Cop exited the game with runners on the corners and one away in the seventh. COC head coach Chris Cota then handed the ball to reliever Xavier Stoker for two key outs and the Cougars escaped from the seventh unscathed.
With Suval removed from the game after seven, Canyons missed an opportunity in the eighth when Jovan Camacho reached base on an error to lead off but then found himself caught up in a wonky fly-ball sequence. After seemingly getting back to first safely, Glendale appealed to second and Camacho was called out for not properly touching second in his return.
Suval earned the win for Glendale after seven-innings of work. He allowed one unearned run on four hits and a pair of walks, while striking out five.
Glendale put together its big four-run eighth inning on three RBI singles against Stoker. Malakai Correll was able to guide Canyons out of the inning but not before Glendale had built a 5-1 advantage. The Cougars were then retired in order in the ninth.
Canyons and Glendale will continue the opening-round three-game playoff series at noon on Saturday, May 7 from Stengel Field.
A Cougars victory would force a Game 3, which would be held approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the second game.