The Modesto Junior College Pirates won their first 14 games this season and, after an agonizing slump, finished by reverting to their old form.
MJC scrapped from a three-run deficit and defeated Sacramento City 7-6 before the hometown crowd on Saturday afternoon. Gino Franceschetti’s two-out RBI single to center drove in Kevin Bettencourt in the sixth with the go-ahead run, and stout relief work protected the lead.
Whether that win vaults them into the playoffs will be decided today, when the Northern California brackets are announced. Modesto (22-13, 8-13) finished in seventh place in the Big 8 Conference, but it’s also ranked 11th in both RPI and in the NorCal coaches’ poll.
“We should get in, but you never know,” assistant coach Zeb Brayton said. “Going 22-13 is pretty darn good. You look at our body of work, the RPI and the 14-0 start. It speaks for itself.”
The Pirates split their final four games after dropping seven in a row, a slump that tumbled them from second to seventh place. Sore-armed pitchers led to other breakdowns, but Modesto eventually displayed against the third-place Panthers (24-11, 12-9) why it was ranked No. 1 in NorCal early in the season.
A thtree-run rally in the fifth, keyed by a run-scoring hit by Aaron Pangilinan, pulled Modesto even 6-6.
The Pirates got only two-thirds of an inning from starter Colby DeVries, but the bullpen delivered. Xavier Macias worked 31/3, followed by starter Matt Burrows’ 32/3 innings on only three days of rest.
Pangilinan, MJC’s designated hitter, walked to the mound and put out a threat in the eighth with a strikeout. In the ninth, he dodged two hits to earn the save. Catcher Nathan Chunn collected a ball in the dirt and threw out a runner at second for the inning’s biggest out.
“We didn’t want to leave anything in the bag today,” Brayton said. “We just kept grinding. That’s how we played early in the season. We got back to what our identity is.”
Warriors drop two – Missed chances at the plate cost Cal State Stanislaus durings its 6-1 and 7-1 California Collegiate Athletic Association losses to visiting Sonoma State (23-12, 20-6). The Seawolves’ George Asmus (5-0, 0.50 ERA) topped Stanislaus starter Nick Voumard, who went 61/3 innings and struck out eight in the opener.
Marcus Mastrobuoni and Dayton Mellor each had four hits during the doubleheader for Stanislaus (12-30, 6-27), which travels to Sonoma State for two today.
Double trouble – Stanislaus (15-38, 8-26), after dropping a CCAA doubleheader 3-0 and 7-2 to Humboldt State (43-11, 27-7), will wrap up its season with a Senior Day game today at 11 a.m. against the Lumberjacks. Stanislaus was blanked on three hits by Katie Obbema during the opener. Amy Droege drove in both runs for the home team during the nightcap.
Track and Field
Pole vault winners – Sacramento State sophomore Steven Pust, the former Golden Valley High star, cleared 15 feet, 5 inches, for a win at Cal’s Brutus Hamilton Invitational in Berkeley. Stanislaus’ Kyle Maxwell had the day’s second-best clearance with a 14-11.
Pust, a decathlete for UC Davis last year, won the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters pole vault title and placed fourth at the CIF Championships in 2012.
Stanislaus’ Sian Morgan didn’t enjoy her best day, but she cleared 11 feet, 113/4 inches to tie for first. She shared the win with UC Davis’ Holly Tokar and Sacramento State’s Miranda Dumas.