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Roberts fans season-high 13 in 5-2 victory

Conner Roberts wears No. 13 and he struck out 13 batters on Tuesday. Roberts took over the state lead in earned-run average at 0.24. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)
Conner Roberts wears No. 13 and he struck out 13 batters on Tuesday. Roberts took over the state lead in earned-run average at 0.24. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)

Conner Roberts went strikeout crazy on Tuesday, fanning nine of the first 10 batters and pitching a masterful seven innings in SBCC's 5-2 baseball win over Oxnard at Pershing Park.

Roberts, a transfer from UCSB, struck out a season-high 13. He only allowed two baserunners on a first-inning single and a sixth-inning walk. He struck out the side in four of the first five innings and fanned seven in a row from the first to the third innings.

The Vaqueros (11-7, 4-3 WSC North) sent nine batters to the plate in the first and scored five runs on two hits, two hit batters and a walk. Nicholas Prainito had the big blow with a three-run triple that one-hopped the fence in right-center. Logan Pollack followed with a perfect suicide squeeze bunt that scored Prainito with the fifth run.

The Condors (7-14-1, 0-7) dropped their eighth straight game. Oxnard had just two hits in the first eight innings, then went deep in the ninth with a homer by Ramon Gomez, a triple by Niko Lima and an RBI groundout by Austin Maciel off reliever Michael Jacobson.

Roberts, a 6-3 sophomore right-hander, struck out the side in four of the first five innings and got Brian Camacho to look at strike 3 for his 13th K in the sixth inning.

"The main key was throwing strikes on the first two pitches," said Roberts. "I really tried to focus on that and my coach kept reminding me before every inning to 'get ahead, get ahead, get ahead.' That was the main focus."

Roberts wasn't surprised that he struck out 12 in the first five frames.

"Oh no, I'm never surprised," he said. "I expect that of myself every day."

Roberts threw just 60 pitches in the first five innings.

"I had all three pitches working – fastball, change-up and slider," he stated. "When you can throw all three pitches in any count, it really helps keep the hitters off-balance."

Roberts took over the state lead in ERA from teammate Ian Churchill. Roberts, who's allowed just one earned run in 37.2 innings, shaved .05 off his ERA, dropping it to 0.24. Churchill has also been lights-out this year with a 4-0 record and a 0.26 ERA.

Roberts is fifth in the state in strikeouts with 54 and Churchill has 50 Ks.

"That was a dominating performance," said SBCC coach Jeff Walker. "One ground-ball single in seven innings? That's why we came out on top in this game. We jumped on them early, did our usual coasting and then hung on for dear life at the end."

Both teams had four hits on the day.

Boston Hubbard walked to open the bottom of the first against Oxnard starter Michael Jester. Joshua Perlmutter singled up the middle and Alonzo Rubalcaba moved the runners to second and third on a sacrifice bunt. Pat Caulfield hit a grounder to third and Gomez tried to tag Hubbard off third but he couldn't reach him and everyone was safe.

Jacob Bravo walked on a 3-2 count to force in the first run. Then Prainito stroked his bases-clearing triple to right-center.

"Conner was amazing, he was almost like a video game," said Prainito, the Vaqueros' sophomore shortstop who went 2-4 with three RBIs. "I was looking for a high pitch and was thinking sac fly to right field. I just trying to find a gap and get the run in."

The Vaqueros will travel to Oxnard on Thursday, then return home to face Moorpark on Saturday at 1 p.m.