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Hancock doubles up Vaqueros, 8-4

John Jensen, a sophomore from Santa Barbara High, went 2-3 and drove in two runs. He's hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games and is batting .364 at home. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
John Jensen, a sophomore from Santa Barbara High, went 2-3 and drove in two runs. He's hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games and is batting .364 at home. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Hancock piled up eight runs on eight hits and five walks in the first five innings on Thursday at Pershing Park en route to an 8-4 WSC North baseball victory over SBCC.

The Bulldogs (17-14, 6-5) led 4-2 after two innings and 8-3 after five. John Jensen went 2-3 with a pair of RBIs for the Vaqueros (14-16, 5-5), who've dropped seven of their last eight.

Dylan Maiden (3-2) went five innings and got the win, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits with four strikeouts and five walks. Phil Almanza held the Vaqueros to one run in the next 3.2 innings and left in the ninth with the bases loaded and SBCC bringing the tying run to the plate.

Ismael Hernandez relieved and secured the victory by getting Mitch Sancier to pop up to second baseman Chad Jones.

"Their starter was pretty good, he mixed his speeds up well and got a couple of our guys to chase some sliders in the dirt," said Jensen, a sophomore third baseman who accepted a scholarship to play at UC Irvine. "We have to do a better job of getting ahead in the count and attacking those fastballs."

The Vaqueros were playing their third game in as many days. They went 1-2 and had 21 hits but all were singles until Zack Stockton led off the ninth with a double down the left-field line and scored on a single by Jake Holton.

"We're struggling to get on base right now, we're punching out too many times," Jensen said. "We always talk about having quality at-bats and we need to string some of those together."

The Vaqueros struggled on defense with a season-high six errors leading to four unearned runs.

"We've kicking the ball around right now," Jensen added. "Our energy has been down in the dugout and we're not playing as a team right now. We need a leader to step up on this team and settle some stuff.

"We're certainly not out of this thing. We have to keep working and get tough and we'll see what we're made of."

The Vaqueros are still just a game out of first in the tight WSC North race. Moorpark is 6-4, followed by Hancock 6-5, SBCC and Ventura (5-5), Cuesta (5-6) and Oxnard (4-6).

Leadoff hitter Quinntin Perez paced the Bulldogs, going 2-4 with two RBIs and three runs.

"We probably swung the bats better than they did, they just had more timely hitting," said Vaquero coach Jeff Walker. "They had four two-out RBIs in the early innings. We didn't play catch early on and that's about the third time this year that the first pitch was put in play and we had a chance to make a play and we didn't."

Perez hit a high fly to short left on Jayden Metz's opening pitch. Left fielder Phil Quartararo called off shortstop Ryan Guardino, then had the ball bounce off his glove for an error. Metz had two pickoff throws get past the first baseman for errors in the second and third.

"We were 5-5 at the midway point in 2012 and won the conference, so it's doable," Walker noted. "No one is playing exceptionally well in our conference."

David Appleby settled down in relief after a rough start. He came in with two on and one out in the fifth with his team trailing 6-3. Daniel Curiel scored on his first pitch – a wild pitch – and Appleby walked two batters, hit another and gave up a sacrifice fly in the first five batters. He pitched 3.2 innings of no-run, four-hit ball.

The Vaqueros will complete their four-game series with Hancock on Saturday in a 2 p.m. game at Santa Maria.