Baseball nearly fell to Rio Hondo college but came back after a dicey final three innings to win the game and make the playoffs.

The Lancers struggled offensively for the first six innings on Friday against a stout Rio Hondo defense.  The score was stagnant at 2-2 until the last third of the game, despite PCC beating Rio Hondo by a combined 11 runs in the first two games of the series.

“We didn’t have our best stuff today and we just did our thing,” PCC pitcher Race Gardner said. “It was a must win kind of game and a lot people kind of hide from it, [but] it’s better to just embrace it.”

Gardner did not pitch in last Friday’s game, but threw a complete game shutout against the Roadrunners on Tuesday.

Rio Hondo hitters struggled to keep the ball between the foul lines when making contact Friday.

“Our pitcher was doing a good job keeping them off balance,” Alex Jelloian, second baseman, said. “They were late on a number of pitches and that’s why they kept fouling off balls. [Nathan] Garkow has a good changeup and changing speeds messed them up.”

Garkow pitched seven innings, allowed eight hits, and had four strikeouts. Reliever Frank Gonzalez pitched two innings, allowed three hits, and had one strikeout.

Rio Hondo took the lead in the seventh inning but PCC scored 4 runs in the eighth inning to take a 6-3 lead. PCC held on to win by a 6-5 final score.

PCC’s Jose Jimenez hit an RBI triple and scored a run in the third inning, which accounted for PCC’s only points on the scoreboard until five innings later.

“We had been struggling to stick to our hitting plan for a large part of the game but we finally put it together,” said Jelloian. “[We] were able to get some guys on base and things just went our way.”

PCC will make the playoffs after Mt. SAC also won Friday creating a three-way tie for the second and final playoff spot in the South Coast Conference North Division.

PCC will face Glendale College in the first round of the playoffs on Friday April 4 at 2:00 p.m. and on Saturday May 4, at 11 a.m. A third game will follow at 3 p.m. if necessary. All games will be played at Glendale.

*Sports Editor Robert Hollar contributed reporting to this article.

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