FOLSOM - A close game turned out into a blowout thanks to a seven-run eighth inning for the Ohlone College Renegades, who opened the California Community College Athletic Association Baseball State Championship with an 11-5 win over Palomar College on Saturday afternoon at Folsom Lake College.
With the win, the Renegades (45-4) advance to the championship semifinals where they will take on the winner of Friday night’s matchup between Riverside City College and host Folsom Lake on Saturday at 2 p.m. Palomar (37-12) will play the loser between the Tigers and Falcons in an elimination game on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Jaden Sheppard went 3-for-4 with a run and three RBIs for Ohlone, while Mykanthony Valdez went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and two runs scored.
Starting pitcher Ethan Foley picked up the win for the Renegades, allowing three runs on seven hits over six-plus innings with one walk and three strikeouts, improving his record to 9-2.
For the Comets, Tanner Lappin went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while Bryson Hashimoto went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Comet starter Dylan Delvecchio (8-2) struggled with control early, allowing the first two runners on base via walks and a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the first. Following a brief mound visit, Delvecchio struck out Valdez, but both runners moved up via stolen base. That proved costly for the Comets as Takumi Maeno scored from third on a passed ball, putting the Renegades up, 1-0. Sheppard made it 2-0 with an RBI-single to left to bring home Damian Stone for a 2-0 Ohlone lead.
After fighting through a scoreless frame, Delvecchio had another HBP to lead off the bottom of the third and that was followed two batters later by a two-run blast off the bat of Valdez – his 13th HR of the season – to put Ohlone up 4-0.
After three quiet innings, Palomar’s Quincy Scott woke things up with a one-out triple into the left-center field gap and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kyle Harvey to make it 4-1.
Delvecchio battled with his control through his five innings of work, allowing three walks and five hit batsmen, but did an excellent job of minimizing damage and held the Renegades to four runs with six strikeouts along the way.
Palomar continued to chip away at the Ohlone four-run lead with a run in the sixth and a run in the seventh to make it 4-3, but Ohlone reliever Ethan Shaver came through in the seventh after back-to-back doubles by Ethan Ellis and Devlin Lindeman which knocked out starter Ethan Foley. Foley held the state’s top-hitting team to three runs on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts over 6-plus innings.
Palomar nearly tied things up in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second, Jack Sanders hit a grounder off the glove of first baseman Jaden Sheppard, but second baseman Kyle Barileau alertly recovered the ball and caught the lead runner away from third. Ohlone third baseman Jeter Ybarra calmly threw the runner out at the plate to end the threat.
From there, it was all Ohlone in the bottom of the eighth as the Renegades sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven times to blow the game open. A two-run double by Sheppard and a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt by Maeno that plated two runs with the help of a Palomar throwing error highlighted the Renegades’ big frame.
Palomar scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth and had the bases loaded with one out, but reliever Cade Castillo used a strikeout and a fly out to end the threat, and the game.
(Tony Altobelli, CCCSIA)