Nicholas Trifiletti delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single in the fifth on a windy Tuesday and three SBCC pitchers combined on a four-hitter as the Vaqueros beat Cuesta 4-2 to move into second place in the WSC North baseball race.
It's all about "surviving and advancing" for the Vaqueros (16-11, 9-7), who won their fourth straight game. Cuesta fell to 18-12 and 9-7.
SBCC and the Cougars are two games back of WSC leader Ventura (11-5) with four to play. Santa Barbara needs to win all four games to assure itself of a ninth straight trip to the Southern Cal Regional playoffs.
SBCC beat the Cougars for the second time in four days by the same 4-2 score. The Vaqueros took the season series 3-1, so they have the tiebreaker advantage if they tie with Cuesta.
"We just knew we had to win," said Trifiletti, a sophomore right fielder from Linwood, N.J. "We have to win every game the rest of the way."
Nick Trifiletti 2-run single with 2 out in 5th scores Ben Martz & Pat Caulfield for 4-2 lead. pic.twitter.com/a807ceDU5i— SBCCVaqueros (@SBCCVaqueros) April 9, 2019
The Vaqueros took a 2-1 lead in the first on Tommy Holguin's RBI single and an infield error that scored Holguin. Cuesta tied it 2-2 in the fourth when Holguin, the third baseman, threw away a grounder to first and Zack Berohn went all the way to third after first baseman Jacob Bravo hit Berohn with a throw to second. Thomas Green brought Berohn home on a sacrifice fly to right.
Ben Martz singled with one out in the bottom of the fifth and Patrick Caulfield walked. Alonzo Rubalcaba's groundout to second moved the runners to second and third. Then Trifiletti drilled a 1-1 pitch to the hole at short and into left field to score Martz and a sliding Caulfield for a 4-2 lead.
"The guy gave me a slider on the first pitch and I swung through it," recalled Trifiletti. "He gave me the same thing the next pitch and then I was looking for the fastball. I got it and I hammered it."
Jake McBride started Tuesday's game at Pershing Park as the "opener" in the Vaqueros new approach of putting relievers in the starting spot and starters to finish the game. McBride allowed one unearned run and struck out three in two innings.
Left-hander Jack Aldrich pitched the third, fourth and fifth frames, giving up an unearned run on one hit with five punch-outs. Then hard-throwing Conner Roberts came in to seal the deal. He got eight of the last 12 outs on strikeouts, giving the Vaqueros 16 strikeouts.
It's the fourth time this year that the Vaqueros have fanned 16 or more. Their pitching staff is No. 7 in the state in ERA (2.87) and No. 7 in strikeouts (283 in 27 games).
"We've been playing superb lately," said Trifiletti. "Our pitching's been good all year, we just have to get the offense going a little and we've been doing that. Conner kills it every game he goes out there. No one can hit him."
Roberts gave up a single to Garrett Brown, the first batter he faced when he came on in the sixth, and only allowed four baserunners in the last four innings with three reaching on walks.
"The pitching matchups worked out well," said SBCC coach Jeff Walker. "McBride opened and gave us two good innings. We gave the ball to the left-hander Aldrich and he didn't pitch great, he pitched good. He neutralized their left-handed hitters. Then we gave the ball to Roberts and he does what he does. He's pretty special."
Roberts, a transfer from UCSB, is 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA and opponents are only hitting .141 against him. He's third in the state with 82 strikeouts.
"It's survive and advance," said Walker. "Ventura won today, so we're still two back. We have four games left and its all hands on deck. It's April Madness."
The Vaqueros will play three games in three days, traveling to Oxnard on Thursday at 2:30 p.m., to L.A. Valley for a nonconference game on Friday at 2:30 p.m. and then hosting Oxnard on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Conner Roberts, a sophomore from Martinez, Calif., struck out 8 in the last four innings. His ERA
is 2.10 and he's No. 3 in the state in strikeouts with 82.