Baseball wraps season with conference title and playoff push

Nicole Sebergandio/Courier Lancers Jeremy Conant attempts to tag Riverside's John Gonzalez from stealing second base at Robinson Park on Friday May 5th 2017.

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There’s a first for everything and this season the Lancers have picked up more than just first time victories. This program has suffered for the past 40-plus years, but this year a legacy and culture have been built.

With a coach who has only been with the team for three years and only three returning players, this season has proved a lot. Not only did they end the conference with a victory but earned the No. 7 seed in playoffs.

The Lancers wrapped the conference 2-1 against their rival Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) during a three game series. Game one 14-12 and game two was a sweep, 17-2. First baseman Jeremy Conant ended with a total of 60 hits and led the conference, center fielder Shawn Ogata racked up 6 triples and tied for conference lead while John Bicos who is also a center fielder extended his hitting streak to 12 games.

“Great swings up and down the line up, we got inside the ball and drove it the other way. Credit to the guys on the team for continuing to work hard because it’s definitely showing,” Pat McGee said.

Although the Lancers were off to a shaky start after starting 0-2 against El Camino and getting shut out by Cerritos (21-0) they still managed to lock in at second place the remaining of the season. Not to mention, Lancers won the last seven conference games and added six players to the statistical leader board.

This team has grown a lot not only individually but as a whole. Even after that Cerritos shut out in March Lancers went back the next day and defeated them 6-5. A loss never carried on and instead became their strength.

“It’s amazing how quickly things turned around with the group of guys we have and everyone was locked in focusing on their job,” shortstop Alex Briggs said. “I really don’t think we would’ve been able to be where we are right now without the determination of the team.”

The Lancers ended the season with a 24-13 overall record and a batting average of .299.

Conant was named SCC North MVP and head coach Pat McGee SCC North Coach of the Year, both a first time award for the program in conference history.

The accolades don’t end there. ALL-SCC First Team spots were given to freshman starting pitchers Jesse Hanckel and Race Gardner, sophomore transfer second baseman Andres Kim, and letterman designated hitter Anthony Fickewirth.

Briggs and freshman Bicos made Second Team All-SCC.

“All the things that we’re getting recognized for right now is just a testament to the coaches and the work we’ve put in all year,” Kim said

With home field advantage Lancers defeated No. 8 Riverside City College 2-0 in a three game series this past weekend. Both games came close, 12-11 and 3-2.

“It is a really good challenge because we’re going to have play teams like that if we’re going to want to win in the playoffs and I think our chances are good,” Conant said.

Playoffs continue as the Lancers travel to face No. 1 ranked El Camino in a three game series this Friday, May 12 at 2 p.m.

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