When Edward Manzo slapped a grounder into the shortstops glove, silence overwhelmed PCC’s dugout; they knew their season was over. That fate was sealed when Glendale shortstop, Grant Mona, threw to first for the final out, winning the three game postseason series.
The Lancers entered the playoffs as the 12 seed, and were faced with taking on the fifth seeded Glendale Community College in the first round. The only other time PCC faced Glendale, they were only able to score one run in a 5-1 loss on February 20.
The team’s previous struggles against Glendale did not worry Coach Pat McGee coming into the playoffs.
“That game was early in the season, and it was non-conference,” Coach McGee said. “What happened last time is not an issue as far as we are concerned. This is a playoff game, so we are all in now, who knows what was going on earlier in the year.”
On the hill for PCC in game one was Gordon Ingebritson, the freshman from Village Christian High School. Ingebritson was hit hard in the first inning allowing two hits and a run, leaving PCC in an early hole.
“I kind of had some first inning jitters, and they came out swinging,” Ingebritson said. “I also had to get used to the mound because [the bullpen mound] seemed a little higher, and the actual mound was flatter.”
The Lancers offense immediately erased that lead in the top of the second inning. Freshman, Tony Shue, hit an RBI double and advanced to third base on a throwing error by the right fielder. The next man up, Daniel Netz was able to bring him home with a sacrifice fly.
Ingebritson was able to settle in after his shaky first. He scattered four hits across the next seven innings, and got some help from his defense. Manzo, who was manning left field, had six putoutsin the game, including a forward-diving catch in the fifth inning. PCC also turned double plays in the second, seventh, and eighth inning, avoiding potential disaster.
“It feels amazing knowing my defense backs me up like that,” Ingebritson said. “[Jose Jimenez] and Ryan Lewis have been amazing defensively all year. They have been locked down turning those double plays.”
Lewis is no stranger to such high praise as he won the Gold Glove award at second base this year.
When the ninth inning came around, the Lancers were hanging on to a 3-1 lead. Coach McGee allowed Ingebritson a chance to finish the game off.
“The coaches assumed I wanted to go back out, and they were right. There was no way I was letting someone else get the ball in the ninth.” Ingebritson said.
Some trouble did arise, however, as two errors in the inning allowed a run to score, trimming the lead to 3-2. Ingebritson managed to work around it by striking out the last batter.
“[Ingebritson’s] pitching was the most important thing for us today,” McGee said. “He’s a tough kid, and he pitched his butt off for us today. With him going nine innings this gives us flexibility with the bullpen for the rest of the series.”
Game two saw Nathan Garkow take the mound for PCC. Garkow, the losing pitcher in the previous game earlier this year against Glendale, could not get revenge this time around. He went just 4.1 innings and gave up five runs.
The offense could not get any real comeback going, only mustering four runs against GCC pitcher, Chris Davidson.
“Glendale pitched their ace in game two,” Coach McGee said. “We had ours pitch in game one, and he shut down the offense, their ace was able to get our guys out. But I still feel like we put up competitive at-bats.”
Game three took place immediately after game two finished. Race Gardner looked to finish off Glendale and send PCC into the next round. He looked strong early on in the game, only allowing one run through the games first five innings.
“My command was working well all game,” Gardner said. “I had lots of of confidence in jamming them on the inside part of the plate, and then relying on my curve to get back into a pitcher’s count.”
The Lancer offense was able to tag Glendale pitcher, Kevin Holcomb, for five runs in the top of the fourth, and able to knock him out early.
Gardner was cruising through the sixth inning when Jimenez botched a grounder with two outs, which extended the inning. From there Gardner had a tough time getting the last out. He allowed two more runs on four hits to score before he was removed.
“I always want to go deeper into games,” Gardner said. “Especially when I am doing so well. My coaches went to the bullpen to do their job and get out of the inning.”
The bullpen was able to get out of the sixth inning without letting any more damage occur.
When it was the Lancer’s turn to bat in the eighth, they put together another five run inning, taking a commanding 11-5 lead.
When the game rolled over into the bottom of the inning, trouble ensued. Frank Gonzalez was tasked with handling the eighth, and was immediately greeted with a double by Glendale slugger, Thad Wilson. A walk and single put Glendale one run closer. Gonzalez continued to struggle with command as he walked a batter with the bases loaded.
Gonzalez allowed three runs to score and could not record an out. Matt McElligott came in to put out the fire, but he was rocked around instead. McElligott was tagged for four runs, and also failed to retire a single Glendale batter.
The next man out of the bullpen, Patrick Pena, suffered a similar fate, allowing two runs without recording an out. Coach McGee, with nowhere left to turn put in his everyday catcher, Matt Orozco, to try and do something productive. He did record the final two outs in the inning, but not before giving up two more runs.
The stunned Lancer’s had no answer for what they just experienced and went down quietly in the top of the ninth. They lost by a final score of 18-11.
“At that point, we were just trying to go home,” Coach McGee admitted. “I trusted my bullpen all year, but I think the pressure got to them. They had never pitched in a moment like this, and they couldn’t perform well.”
“It obviously sucks,” Coach McGee said. “For 26 of the 27 innings we played, I believe we were the better team. Game three was ours, but that eighth inning ruined it. It is the first time in my coaching history where we scored 10 runs and lost.”
Even with the sour ending to the season, Coach McGee still had high praise for his team.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the Sophomores. They built a winning reputation here,” Coach McGee boasted. “Back to back playoffs, and two twenty win seasons is something to be proud of. PCC is now synonymous with winning. The amount of growth I saw from the freshmen was huge. I couldn’t be more proud of these group of kids.”
Coach McGee will return for his fifth season next year with a team that has playoff experience mixed with fresh talent, hoping to win the state championship.