Vaqueros win 16-inning thriller in Regional opener
By Dave Loveton, sports information
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Jebbia's walk-off hit caps marathon 6-5 win
He goes 4-6 in playoff opener; McCaffrey throws 8.1 scoreless innings
When Mark Jebbia came to the plate with a runner on second base in the 16th inning of Tuesday's Southern Cal Regional opener, he was just trying to stay calm.
Jebbia drove a single through the left side with two outs, scoring Zach Zehner and propelling SBCC to a 6-5 victory over Canyons at Pershing Park. The WSC North champion Vaqueros were seeded 15th while the Cougars were No. 18.
Jebbia went 4-6 with two RBIs and shortstop Steven Reveles was 3-6 in the longest playoff game and one of the longest in the history of SBCC baseball. It lasted four hours and 42 minutes.
"Whenever I come up in pressure situations, I like to remember that the game stays the same -- you still have to run 90 feet, the pitcher still has to throw it 60 feet, 6 inches," said Jebbia, a 6-4 freshman third baseman from Arcadia. "Pressure is all mental. I just try to relax in those situations."
With one out in the bottom of the 16th, Zehner hit a ball that hopped over the shortstop's head for a single. After a strikeout, Jebbia stroked one through the hole and into left field. The relay throw hit the Canyons' shortstop in the head, allowing Zehner to sprint home from second base and touch off a wild celebration.
"Longest game of my life, it was a marathon," said Zehner, who was 2-7 and scored three runs. "I knew we were going to win. We put our hearts on the line and we weren't going to fall short."
Danny Nieves started for the Vaqueros, who won their sixth straight to improve to 20-17. SBCC has also won six in a row at home and nine of its last 11 at Pershing Park.
Nieves went six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. Cory Jones, Canyons' starter, was clocked in the 93-94 range on the radar gun. He struck out eight of the first nine batters and finished with 11 strikeouts and seven walks in 4.1 innings.
Southpaw John Salas relieved Jones with two on and one out after the Vaqueros had scored three to take a 5-3 lead in the fifth. Zehner drove in two with a double to left and Jebbia brought him home on a triple to left-center.
Salas finished the game for Canyons, amassing 11.1 innings, and didn't give up a run until the 16th. He threw 142 pitches, striking out seven and allowing 10 hits.
"That was an unbelievable effort," said Vaquero coach Jeff Walker. "I've never seen anything like that, throwing almost 12 innings and 142 pitches. That was absolutely amazing."
Jake Jelmini tied the game at 5 with a two-run homer to right-center with one out in the seventh.
Rich McCaffrey, normally the Vaqueros' No. 2 starter, came on in relief with two outs in the eighth and turned in a stellar performance. The left-hander pitched 8 1/3 innings of scoreless ball and held the Cougars (20-16-1) to four singles. He struck out 11 and didn't walk a batter.
McCaffrey struck out the side in the 12th and 13th frames, using the minimum 9 pitches in the 13th
"Everything was working today, my fastball -- inside and outside -- curveball and changeup," said McCaffrey, a sophomore left-hander. "All season, I've been a little wild. These last few outings, I decided my stuff is good enough and I'm going to throw right at 'em.
"If they hit it, they hit it and if they don't, they don't. So far, they haven't hit it."
Santa Barbara, which left 18 runners on base, loaded the bases with one out in the 12th when Jebbia was hit by a pitch, Jared Dinges doubled over the first baseman's head and Eli Michaels was hit on the forearm.
Joey Gonzalez hit into a chopper to third and Canyons turned it into a 5-2-3 double play.
"That was McCaffrey's best performance of the year and it came just four days after he pitched a scoreless seven innings (in a 4-1 win at Oxnard)," noted Walker. "We did a good job of coming back early in the game. Against a guy like Jones, you have to grind it out, get the pitch count up and try to get him out of the game.
"This would have been a tough one to lose. I'm sure glad we were on the right side of this game. This gives us great momentum for the playoffs."
The Vaqueros will play a best-of-3 Regional series this weekend at No. 2 Rio Hondo, the Foothill Conference champion with a 33-3 record. Saturday will be a single game at 1 p.m. and Sunday's action starts at 11 a.m.
Canyons ....... 021 000 200 000 000 0 -- 5 11 1
SBCC ............. 020 030 000 000 000 1 -- 6 16 2
Two outs when winning run scored.
Jones, Salas (5) and Browne; Nieves, Benenati (7), Shoemake (8), McCaffrey (8) and Dinges. W--McCaffrey 5-3. L--Salas 3-7.
2B--SB: Gonzalez, Zehner, Reveles, Dinges. 3B--SB: Jebbia. HR--C: Jelmini (6), 7th inn., one on.
Records--C 20-16-1. SB 20-17.