'California State Tournament Runner-Up 2005'
SOUTH CENTRAL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS 1957, 1962
PACIFIC COAST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS 1988, 1989, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013
2014 Season ...
First-place Comets win fifth straight game
IMPERIAL (3-06-2014) -- Three-time defending champion Palomar's Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball leaders ran their winning streak to five games on Thursday, turning back stubborn Imperial Valley 10-3.
Dillan Smith, Francis Christy and Jared Hunt had multiple hits for the Comets. Starter and winning pitcher Jake Barnett began the afternoon with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings but had left the game by the time Cody Ells came in to retire all six batters he faced in relief and Rusty Huber finished the game with a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth.
IVC hung around for a while as left-hander Hector Pareda, who pitched a complete game, slowed down the Palomar's hitters from the third inning into the seventh with a steady diet of change-ups. But the Arabs didn't do much to help themselves defensively by making nine errors in possibly the strangest game of the season.
The Comets (9-7, 5-0 in conference) wound up with 10 hits against Pareda, led by Smith (2-for-4, two runs scored, squeeze-bunt RBI), Christy (2-for-4, two runs scored, sacrifice fly) and Hunt (2-for-4, stolen base, one run scored, RBI).
Dennis Morton singled and drove in a pair of runs on a ground out and a sacrifice fly. Nathan Mann contributed an RBI single, while Matt Matlock and Anthony Balderas also hit safely.
Palomar will be back in action on Friday at 2 p.m. with a wet-field make-up at San Diego Mesa and will host Grossmont in its first meeting of the season with the Griffins on Saturday at Myers Field at noon.
PICTURED ABOVE:Dillan Smith (above left), Cody Ells (above right)
Esquibel, 3 relievers shut out San Diego City
SAN DIEGO (2-27-2014) --Emilio Esquibel and three relievers combined to throw a seven-hit shutout at San Diego City College on Thursday at Morley Field as Palomar won 10-0 to take over the early undisputed Pacific Coast Athletic Conference lead.
Esquibel (2-0), a sophomore right-hander out of Vista High School, allowed three hits in five innings to record the victory. Gary Cornish pitched the sixth and seventh, and he was followed to the mound by Joey Portugal in the eighth and Michael Jordan in the ninth.
It's all about family, pitching and winning and Palomar for Esquibel, the youngest of three brothers who have pitched for the Comets. He has an earned run average of 0.00 for 12 1/3 innings.
Palomar's four pitchers struck out 10 while walking two. Cornish had four strikeouts in his two-inning stint. Jordan struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth.
Francis Christy paced an 11-hit attack for the Comets (8-7, 3-0 in conference) by going 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk, two RBIs and a stolen base. Dennis Morton slugged a two-run home run over the leftfield fence to highlight a seven-run fifth inning that blew open a 1-0 game.
Matt Matlock tripled to drive in the game's first run in the third inning, contributed a sacrifrice bunt and also made a long-distance sprint from straight-away left to run down Anthony Lee's foul fly ball to lead off the Knights' third inning.
Nolan Barraza had a pinch-hit double to drive in a run. Jared Hunt singled to drive in a run. And Chris Stratton, Sapp, Zack Bonneau, Alec Salcedo and Nathan Mann all singled.
Palomar had four steals, by four players.
The Comets have won four straight games and six of their last seven. They have a bye in the seven-team PCAC on Saturday and will return to action at San Diego Mesa next Tuesday at 2 p.m.
PICTURED ABOVE:Emilio Esquibel (left), Matt Matlock (right)
Barnett Ks 9 in 5 innings; PC wins big 13-2
SAN JACINTO (2-25-2014) -- Palomar set the tone immediately on Tuesday and went on to bombard new Pacific Coast Athletic Conference member Mt. San Jacinto 13-2 to advance to 2-0 in PCAC play.
The Comets, who are seeking a fourth straight conference championship, jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the top half of the first inning and starting pitcher Jake Barnett struck out nine batters in five innings, coming out of the game at that point with a 9-1 lead. Barnett recorded the win.
Dillan Smith doubled over the right-fielder's head to lead off the game, Anthony Fernandez, Jared Hunt and Eric Sapp also doubled in the inning, and the Comets were off and running. Palomar wound up with 15 hits during the afternoon.
Dennis Morton went 3-for-6 with a double for the winners. Sapp went 2-for-4 with a double, a hit-by-pitch, a stolen base and four RBIs. Smith was 2-for 5 with a double and a walk and also stole home. Fernandez was 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a sacrifrice bunt. Anthony Balderwas went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk.
Rusty Huber, Taylor Miller, Kamden Haglund and Max Burdette followed Barnett to the mound, each pitching one inning and combining to stop the Eagles with one run on two hits the rest of the way.
The Comets will visit San Diego City College, an 11-8 winner over Grossmont in 11 innings and the only other team with a 2-0 conference record, at 2 p.m. Thursday at Morley Field in San Diego.
PICTURED ABOVE: Winning pitcher Jake Barnett (left); Eric Sapp, who drove in four runs (right)
ABOVE:Anthony Fernandez connects on a first-inning home run that put the Comets up 3-0. BELOW: Set-up man Cody Ells, who threw three shutout innings with four strikeouts and no walks, delivers a pitch. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
PC ends Jags' win streak at 10 in PCC opener
SAN MARCOS (2-22-2014) --As if on cue and thanks to Anthony Fernandez' three-run first-inning home run, three hits and two RBIs by Francis Christy and Cody Ells' strong relief pitching, Palomar got off on the right foot in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball race on Saturday.
After another on-again, off-again non-conference schedule against some powerhouse opponents, the Comets were ready to go on opening day in the PCAC against a Southwestern team that came into the conference opener with a 10-1 win-loss record and a 10-game winning streak.
Palomar won 7-5 as Christy, Fernandez and Dennis Morton contributed multiple-hit performances. Ells, again appearing as the Comets' set-up man, threw three innings of shutout relief to play the biggest role as they held on to an early lead.
Ells, a 6-foot-6 sophomore right-hander from Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead, struck out four and walked none against a potent Southwestern lineup that came to town averaging just under seven runs per game. He gave up two scratch hits.
Zach Wilkins started for the Comets and, even though he was hardly at his best, pitched the first five innings to pick up the win and up his win-loss record to 3-0. Michael Jordan relieved Ells to begin the ninth inning and worked his way out of a jam to notch his third save.
At the plate, the Comets banged out nine hits. Christy went 3-for-4 with the two RBIs. Fernandez went 2-for-4 with the three-run homer. Morton was 2-for-4. Jared Hunt and Chris Stratton also hit safely.
Dillan Smith led off the three-run first inning for Palomar by drawing a walk. Matt Matlock advanced Smith to second with a groundball to the right side. Morton singled through the right side, and Fernandez followed with his home run shot over the rightfield fence at Myers Field.
The Jaguars came back to tie the game with two runs in the top of the second and another in the third.
But the Comets immediately struck back to take a 5-3 lead with two runs in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back singles by Morton Fernandez, Anthony Balderas' grounder to the right side and Christy's two-run single to center with two outs.
Palomar scored its final two runs in the seventh on back-to-back singles by Jared Hunt and Chris Stratton to begin the inning, a fielder's choice, an error and a sacrifice fly by Matlock. Stratton and Smith stole bases in the inning.
The Comets spoiled legendary Southwestern coach Jerry Bartow's 80th birthday.
The Comets will play their second of 24 conference games on Tuesday at new PCAC member Mt. San Jacinto, beginning at 2 p.m.
ABOVE:Palomar reliever Kamden Haglund pitches to COD batter in the eighth inning on Thursday. Haglund and three other pitchers combined on a three-hitter the victory. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Starter Emilio Esquibel, who threw the first 6 1/3 innings to record the win. BELOW RIGHT: Chris Stratton, who went 2-for-3 and drove in three of the Comets' five runs
Conference opener is next after 3-hit shutout
SAN MARCOS (2-20-2013) -- Palomar couldn't have played much better on Thursday as the Comets blanked College of the Desert 5-0 at Myers Field in their final tune-up for Saturday's Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball opener.
The Comets, who will host Southwestern to begin their conference season at noon Saturday, got a combined three-hit shuout from Emilio Esquibel, Josh Bravin, Kamden Haglund and Michael Jordan.
Esquibel, a sophomore out of Vista High School, pitched the first 6 1/3 innings to pick up the victory. He struck out four and walked none.and departed the game with the Comets leading by the final 5-0 score.
Braven, Haglund and Jordan thew hitless, scoreless ball over the final 2 2/3 innings.
Chris Stratton led Palomar at the plate, going 2-for-3 and driving in three runs. Francis Christy (1-for-1 with two walks) drove in one run and Dillan Smith drove in the other run with a bunt single. Dennis Morton and Jared Hunt also contributed singles.
Zapata beats Notre Dame with complete game
SAN ANTONIO, Texas --Former Palomar pitcher D.J. Zapata (left) threw a complete-game six-hitter, striking out eight and walking one, as Santa Clara downed Notre Dame 2-1 on Thursday.
The victory came in the Irish Classic, being hosted by Notre Dame in Texas because of the weather in South Bend, Indiana.
Zapata, a senior right-hander out of Mission Hills High School who was a football quarterback / baseball pitcher for the Comets, is 1-1 on the season with a 1.84 earned run average. He's pitched 14 2/3 innings, striking out 12 batters and walking three.
ABOVE:Jared Hunt, who had doubled and gone to third on Dylan Smith's groundball to the right side, slides in safely at home with Palomar's third run on a fourth inning wild pitch. BELOW: Shortstop Vince Mori awaits the throw from first baseman Eric Sapp as he tags out Santa Ana's Joshua Vargas in the bottom of the first. Pitcher Jake Barnett picked Vargas and first baseman Eric Sapp relayed the ball to Mori. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
Comets get slow start and lose game to Dons
SAN MARCOS (2-18-2014) -- Palomar got off to a bad start, then battled back but never really recovered Tuesday as the Comets dropped a 6-3 non-conference baseball decision to visiting Santa Ana at Myers Field.
The Dons (9-2) scored once in the first inning, scored four times in the second and added an unearned run without benefit of a hit in the third.
Palomar got outstanding relief pitching from Rusty Huber, Cody Ells and Anthony Balderas, who combined to stop Santa Ana on two hits over the last six innings. They struck out seven and walked one.
The Comets' second pitcher, who started the third inning, hit the only two batters he faced. Huber relieved him and threw 4 1/3 innings of two-hit, shutout relief, striking out three. Two errors paved the way for a Santa Ana run that was charged to the second pitcher.
Ells followed with 1 2/3 hitless, scoreless innings with two strikeouts and Balderas struck out two as he came on to retire the side in order in the ninth.
The Comets knocked out four hits in the bottom of the first but got managed only one run and left the bases loaded. Balderas singled to right field to drive in Matt Matlock, who was aboard on a single.
Anthony Fernandez doubled, went to third on Balderas' single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Francis Christy for Palomar's second run in the bottom of the third.
And the Comets tallied their last run of the day in the fourth when Jared Hunt doubled to right, took third on Dillan Smith's grounder to the right side and charged home on a wild pitch.
Santa Ana's pitchers then stopped Palomar with six shutout innings to end the game, allowing only one hit. Starter and winner Tyler Sloan ran his win-loss record to 3-0 and the Dons' third pitcher, A.J. Franks, recorded his third save.
Palomar wasted nine hits, eight of them bunched in the early innings, and left 10 runners on base. Fernandez and Balderas each had two hits. Smith, Matlock, Dennis Morton, Christy and Hunt had the other hits.
Palomar will play its final non-conference game on Thursday at 2 p.m. vs. College of the Desert at Myers Field. The Comets will open a 24-game PCAC schedule on Saturday at noon, also at Myers Field, against Southwestern.
Wilkins (win), Jordan (save) pitch PC to win
FULLERTON (2-15-2014) -- Palomar wrapped up a series sweep of 2013 state runner-up Fullerton on Saturday at Hornet Field, winning 5-1 behind the strong pitching of Zach Wilkins and Michael Jordan.
Wilkins (2-0) started and threw 7 2/3 innings of five-hit, one-run baseball to record the win as the Comets beat the Hornets for the second time in three days. He struck out five and walked two.
Jordan, Palomar's third pitcher of the afternoon, notched his second save of the season as he allowed one hit over 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out two and walked none.
Wilkins, nearing the 100-pitch mark with the Comets leading 2-1, retired Fullerton's Nick Gotta and K.C. Huth on a pair of groundball outs to begin the bottom of the seventh inning. At that juncture, coach Buck Taylor brought a left-hander in to face Jose Rojas, the Hornets' lefty clean-up hitter.
After a four-pitch walk and a single by Troy Prasertsit, Taylor sent Jordan out to pitch to Oliver Jackson.
With two outs, runners at first and second and with the tying run on-deck (hence the save opportunity), Jordan got Jackson to pop up to first baseman Anthony Balderas for the third out of the inning.
Jordan retired the Hornets in the bottom of the ninth as he worked his way through four batters with a strikeout, a single, another strikeout and a line-drive out to Dillon Smith in centerfield.
Palomar scored its five runs on RBIs from Nathan Mann (grounder to the right side) and Bubba Craig (two-out single) in the second inning, Anthony Balderas( grounder to short) in the sixth inning, Smith (single) in the seventh inning and pinch-hitter Anthony Fernandez (single) in the eighth.
Dennis Morton contributed a triple, Vince Mori doubled and Balderas, Nolan Barraza, Matt Matlock and Zach Bonneau singled to round out the Comets' 10-hit attack.
Palomar has won four of six games after a miserable 0-4 start. The Comets will host Santa Ana on Tuesday and College of the Desert on Thursday before opening Pacific Coast Athletic Conference play vs. Southwestern on Saturday at noon at Myers Field.
PHOTOS:Zach Wilkins (above left), Vince Mori (above right)
TOP PHOTO:Cal transfer Michael Jordan delivers a pitch against Fullerton in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday. Jordan threw the last two innings, recording the save, as the Comets won 4-2. SECOND FROM TOP: Anthony Fernandez singles todrive in Dennis Morton, giving Palomar a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Winning pitcher Kamden Haglund
Comets knock off 2013 state runner-up team
SAN MARCOS (2-13-2014) -- Palomar, which knocked off defending CCCAA state champion Cypress last weekend, recorded another big baseball victory on Thursday at Myers Field when it turned back last year's state runnerup Fullerton College 4-2 at Myers Field.
Kamden Haglund, the second of four pitchers coach Buck Taylor utilized during the afternoon, threw two hitless innings to record his first community college win.
The sophomore right-hander from La Costa Canyon High School, who transferred from Centenary College of Louisiana, relieved starter Zach Wickham with the score tied 1-1, one out and runners at first and second in the top of the fifth and got the first batter he faced, Fullerton cleanup hitter Jose Rojas, to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The Comets scored two runs in back of Haglund in the sixth to go on front 3-1. Joey Portugal came on to get the final two outs in the seventh, when the Hornets pushed across their second run.
Michael Jordan, a right-handed sophomore transfer from Cal who had a 4.50 ERA for the Golden Bears last season in limited action, relieved Portugal to begin the eighth. Jordan faced six batters in the eighth and ninth to earn a save.
He surrendered a single to Ismael Sanchez to lead off the ninth inning, but got John Orlando to ground into a double-play from second baseman Jared Hunt to shortstop Vince Mori to first baseman Eric Sapp. Dakota Wix then popped out to Mori to end the game.
Dennis Morton had a hand in two of Palomar's four runs and drove in the winning run with a double to right-center that drove in Matt Matlock in the sixth inning.
The Comets took a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Matlock walked to lead-off the inning, Morton singled to left-center to move him up a base, Anthony Fernandez advanced Matlock to third with a sacrifice bunt and Anthony Balderas drove him in with a sacrifice fly to right.
After Fullerton tied the game in the top of the fifth, Palomar pushed across two runs in the sixth to take the lead for good. Matlock drew a lead-off walk, stole second and scored on Fernandez' RBI single.
The Hornets closed the Palomar lead to 3-2, but the Comets added an insurance run in the bottom of the sevgenth on a hit batter, a walk and an error.
Dillon Smith and Sapp also had hits for the Comets as they made the mowst of five hits off five Fullerton pitchers.
Wickham pitched 4 1/3 strong innings to start the game.
The two teams play again on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Hornet Field in Fullerton.
Palomar wastes a pitching gem by Barnett
SANTA ANA (2-11-2014) -- Palomar left-hander Jake Barnett, a freshman from Orange Glen High School, had his way with host Santa Ana College for seven innings on Tuesday.
He scattered four hits over seven innings, threw 58 strikes on 98 pitches, struck out five and left the teams' non-conference game with a solid 5-2 lead.
But, after Barnett's departure, the roof fell in on four PC relief pitchers. And, one error, five walks and a hit batter later, the Dons came back to win the game 6-5 as they left the Comets standing in the bottom of the ninth at Don Snedden Field.
Santa Ana (6-1) scored an unearned run in the eighth inning, then added three runs including the game-winner with two outs in the ninth. The Dons tied the game on a hit batter with the bases loaded and won it on a single through the right side of the infield by David Martinez.
The Comets, who had been getting good pitching but erratic hitting in opening the season 2-5, banged out 11 hits in Tuesday's game. They got excellent starting pitching from Barnett, but their defense failed them in the form of two late-inning errors, and that's when the relief pitching went south.
Matt Matlock went 2-for-4 with a sacrifice bunt and drove in two of Palomar's runs. Dennis Morton was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Vince Mori went 2-for-5. And Francis Christy doubled twice in five at-bats, one of the doubles coming on a hit-and-run that deposited runners at second and third and set the stage for a fourth-inning run that extended a one-run Comets lead to 3-1.
Dillon Smith, Chris Stratton and Alec Salcedo also had hits.
Palomar's hit production was a season high. But the Comets again hurt themselves by leaving 11 runners on base, five in the last two innings.
Palomar hopes to get well back at Myers Field on Thursday at 2 p.m. when the Comets host Fullerton in another non-conference game. The Hornets edged Palomar by one run in the final game of the Fullerton Super Regional last season, then went on to place second in the Final Four of the state tournament the following weekend.
Cornish, Wilkins handcuff COD, state champs
PALM DESERT (2-06-2014, 2-07-2014, 2-08-2014) -- Led by starting pitchers Gary Cornish and Zach Wilkins, a big tournament from Dylan Smith and getting what turned out to be a game-winning hit from Dakota Thompson, the Palomar baseball team could do little wrong for the first two days of the Buttles Memorial Tournament hosted by College of the Desert.
The Comets turned back host COD 5-2 in 10 innings on the first day Thursday. They knocked off defending state communty college champion Cypress 2-1 on the second day Friday.
Saturday was pretty much forgettable as Palomar didn't do a whole lot right in dropping a 7-3 decision to San Bernardino Valley. But the bottom line is that the Comets won two of three games.
Palomar 5, COD 2 --Cornish dominated as he pitched two-hit ball over the first six innings for the Comets, and one of those two hits was a sun-ball single that dropped in front of the left fielder. He struck out six and walked one, and left the game with the teams tied 1-1 (the Roadrunners tallied an unearned run in the third). Cornish struck out the side in the fourth inning.
The Comets came back to tie the game in their half of the fourth when Anthony Fernandez doubled to center, Vince Mori walked and Frances Christy delivered a single to right to drive in Fernandez. Bubba Craig walked later in the inning but Palomar left the bases loaded.
Palomar went in front 2-1 in the eighth when the first two batters walked and, after a wild pitch, Mori followed with a sacrifice fly. But COD came back to make it 2-2 in the bottom of the inning before winning pitcher Taylor Miller came in the game to cut off the rally and leave the bases loaded.
The Comets won it in the top of the 10th when Fernandez singled, Mori sacrificed him to second, Christy singled to right and pinch-hitter Dennis Morton crushed a two-run triple to right field.
Smith, who stole seven bases in the tournament, went 2-for-6 and had three steals. Mori, at shortstop, and first baseman Eric Sapp made an outstanding play in the hole and pick at first to rob COD's Angel Garcia of a hit to lead off the eighth.
Palomar 2, Cypress 1 --Wilkins handcuffed the state champions with seven outstanding innings before Anthony Balderas moved from first base to the mound and pitched the last two innings to record a save.
Thompson drove in both of the Comets' runs with a two-run single in the bottom of the second. Mori singled to left with one out, Christy drew a walk and Nolan Barraza moved the runners up a base with a groundball to the first baseman.
Smith went 3-for-4 with a steal, and Christy was 2-for-3 with a walk.
San Bernardino Valley 7, Palomar 3 --The Comets led 3-0 before an error opened the gates for three unearned runs by the Wolverines in the top of the third. After that, the wheels came off for Palomar as six PC pitchers walked 12 batters and the Comets left 11 runners stranded over the final six innings.
Palomar took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first after Smith walked, then stole both second and third to get the Comets rolling. The first run scored on a double-play grounder and Mori drove in the second run with a single to left. The Comets made it 3-0 in the third when Smith led off with a single, took second on a walk to Chris Stratton and eventually scored on Balderas' sacrifice fly.
Cal transfer Michael Jordan, the Palomar starter, had a strong first three innings, pitching scoreless, hitless ball. Rusty Huber came in to pitch in the sixth inning to get the Comets out of a jam, and Kamden Haglund, Troy Forester and Max Burdette combined to throw 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Smith went 1-for-2, stole three bases and reached base once as a hit batter. He finished the tournament 6-for-12 with seven steals and some outstanding defense in center field.
PHOTOS:Dillon Smith (left), Zach Wilkins (right)
Palomar's starter, freshman left-hander Jake Barnett, pitches to the Pirates. -- Photo by Hugh Cox
Comets will bid to turn things around in desert
SAN MARCOS (2-04-2014) --The start to Palomar's baseball season has been nothing to write home about, and a 4-1 loss to Orange Coast in a non-conference game on Tuesday at Myers Field was nothing special either.
But slow starts are nothing new for the Comets, who began last season 2-8 but wound up missing a trip to the CCCAA State Final Four when they came up one run short in the deciding game of the Fullerton Super Regional.
So there is no need to panic. But coach Buck Taylor would like his club to turn things around sooner rather than later, beginning with the Buttles Memorial Tournament starting Thursday at Palm Desert where they'll face host College of the Desert, defending state champion Cypress and San Bernardino Valley on successive days.
Once again, the Comets got decent pitching, this time by freshman left-hander Jake Barnett, Taylor's starter against the Pirates, and relievers Zach Wickham, Rusty Huber and Emilio Esquibel.
But OCC pitchers Art Vidro and Spencer Moran handcuffed the Comets through the first eight innings before Joe Reth, the Pirates' closer, came on in the ninth to record the save. Vidro, who threw the first five innings, and Moran took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
Anthony Balderas led off the eighth by doubling to left field for the first Palomar hit. He advanced to third on Anthony Fernandez' sacrifice fly to center, then scored on an infield single by Francis Christyt that Orange Coast second baseman Justin Broussard back-handed as he broke toward the bag.
Those were the Comets' only two hits.
Palomar also got some solid defense, which featured a diving catch coming in on the play by center fielder Dillon Smith, who robbed the Pirates' Cody Nulph of a hit with a runner at first and none out in the top of the fifth. Christy, the Comets' catcher, also picked off Daniel Delaney at third base in the sixth inning.
Right-hander Gary Cornish will try to halt the Comets' skid when he starts vs. COD at noon Thursday.
Alec Salcedo (top photo) drives in pinch runner Matt Matlock with Palomar's only run in the seventh inning on Saturday on a single to left. It appeared the Comets had scored an earlier run in the fourth inning on back-to-back doubles by Dennis Morton and Anthony Fernandez, but the umpire ruled Morton missed the base as he rounded third (lower two photos). Did Morton actually touch the bag with the inside of his left foot, or didn't he? You make the call. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
PC drops gut-wrencher in 14th in home opener
SAN MARCOS (2-01-2014) -- Despite some strong pitching by starter Zach Wilkins and three of four relievers, Palomar dropped a gut-wrenching 2-1 decision to Golden West in 14 innings in its home baseball opener Saturday at Myers Field.
On an afternoon of frustrations, the Comets stranded 12 runners, eight of them in scoring position and seven of those at third base.
But before most of that happened, with the Rustlers hanging onto a 1-0 lead less than an hour into a 3-hour, 21-minute marathon, Palomar appeared to tie the game in the bottom half of the fourth only to have the run come right off the scoreboard on an appeal play at third base.
Anthony Fernandez doubled into the rightfield corner to apparently drive in Dennis Morton, who had doubled to right moments earlier, with the tying run. But Golden West appealed that Morton had missed the bag rounding third. The plate umpire called him out and the run came off the board.
The Comets finally tied the game for real in the bottom of the seventh when Nolan Berraza was hit by a pitch, advanced to third on Eric Sapp's single through the right side and scored on Alec Salcedo's single to left.
After that, Palomar left a runner stranded at third in the eighth inning, left another runner stranded at third in the 10th, left the bases loaded in the 11th, left a runner stranded at first in the 12th inning and left a runner stranded at second in the 13th.
Golden West tallied the winning run when Michael Ferris reached base on a leadoff walk in the top half of the 14th, stole second, advanced on a single to center by Connor Larson and scored on Russell Terry's sacrifice fly to center with one out.
The Comets wasted strong pitching performances by starter Zach Wilkins, who threw the first seven innings, and three of their four relievers on the day, Anthony Balderas, Cody Ells and Matt Silberman.
The Comets turned four double plays in back of their pitchers while making only one error. The first one came in the top of the first inning, when Golden West's Frank Califano led off the game with a double, then inadvisedly tried to go to third on a ball hit in front of him by the second batter, James Stea. The ball went straight to third baseman Jared Hunt, who tagged out Califano coming into the bag standing up. Hunt then relayed the ball to Sapp, the first baseman, to get Stea.
The other double plays involved Palomar's second baseman, Chris Stratton, shortstop Morton and Sapp, in one order or another.
The Comets banged out 10 hits -- Morton's double and single, a double and single by Hunt, two singles by Dillan Smith, Fernandez' double and singles by Stratton, Sapp and Salcedo. They just couldn't put enough of those hits together at one time.
Palomar won't have any time to feel sorry for itself after three frustrating losses to start the season. The Comets will be back on the field to host Orange Coast on Tuesday, then will face College of the Desert, defending state champion Cypress and San Bernardino Valley in the three-day David Buttles Memorial Tournament at COD in Palm Desert that begins Thursday.
Comets strand 10 in 5-2 loss at Golden West
HUNTINGTON BEACH (1-30-2014) --The Palomar baseball team is off to one of its typical slow starts, falling 5-2 to Golden West in a non-conference game on Thursday at Fred Hoover Field.
The Comets, who traditionally have started slowly but finished strong and were 2-8 to begin last season before eventually advancing to within one win of the State Final Four, are 0-2 for 2013.
Dennis Morton gave the Comets a 1-0 first-inning lead in Thursday's game when he doubled to left centerfield to drive in Dylan Smith. Smith had led off the game by beating out an infield single and advanced to second on a sacrifice fielder's choice by Chris Stratton.
Palomar, trailing 2-1, tied it up when Anthony Balderas lined a single off Golden West pitcher Mitchell Moore with the bases loaded in the fifth. Balderas' hit scored Stratton, who had walked to lead off the inning.
Golden West scored the winning run on a two-run home run by Frank Califano in the seventh and tacked on a solo inside-the-park homer by Moises Montes in the eighth.
The Comets out-hit the Rustlers 6-5 but left 10 runners on base, seven in scoring position. Francis Christy doubled, and Jared Hunt and Stratton both singled for Palomar's other hits.
Smith, moved from the middle infield to center field prior to the season, made two outstanding defensive plays, a running catch and a diving catch coming in on a ball.
Starter Michael Jordan, a transfer from Cal, pitched three-hit ball over the first 5 1/3 innings for the Comets. He took a non-decision.
Palomar hosts Golden West to open its home season on Saturday at 1 p.m.
PHOTOS:Dennis Morton (left); Dillon Smith (right)
42 MLB scouts show, but Comets lose opener
COSTA MESA (1-29-2014) --With only two community college baseball games played in the state on Wednesday, the other one up in Northern California, 42 Major League scouts including a bevy of cross-checkers showed up for a season-opener between Palomar and Orange Coast.
They were on hand to see two nationally-ranked clubs begin the season -- but especially for the pitching match-up of the Comets' opening-day starter Gary Cornish and the Pirates' David Hill.
Neither was around at the finish as Orange Coast took advantage of a brief pitching lapse and some sloppy defensive play by the Comets to win 6-2. But Hill, who threw the first five innings to pick up the victory, impressed. So did Cornish, until there were two out and nobody on in the bottom of the fourth and the Pirates struck for three runs to break open a 1-0 game.
Cornish had stuck out five batters in the first 3 2/3 innings, including the first two Coast hitters looking at pitches in the fourth.
Palomar got some solid relief pitching from Jake Barnett, Cody Ells and Matt Silberman. But two late Palomar errors, one on a double-play ground ball, opened the gates for the final two Orange Coast runs.
The Comets, trying to come back, got seven runners on base in the final two innings but had to settle for only one run.
Jared Hill reached base as a hit batter and came around to score Palomar's first run on a sixth-inning wild pitch. Hunt singled to drive in Dillan Smith, aboard as a hit batter, for the Comets' second run in the eighth.
Palomar left the bases loaded in the eighth and wasted singles by Eric Sapp and Smith in the ninth.
Earlier, Anthony Fernandez (above left) doubled to lead off the Palomar fifth and Anthony Balderas followed with a single to put runners on first and second with none out. But the Comets left Fernandez and Balderas stranded.
Palomar visits Golden West on Thursday at 2 p.m. and will play its home opener against the same club on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Myers Field.
PC begins season No. 6 (state), No. 25 (nation)
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA --Palomar begins its 2014 season on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Orange Coast ranked No. 25 in the nation by Cedar Rapids-based Perfect Game USA, the world's largest baseball scouting service.
State College of Florida-Manatee is ranked first in the nation, while defending California state champion Cypress is ranked No. 6.
Orange Coast is ninth in the nation.
Palomar, which previously was ranked fifth in Southern California in the pre-season by the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association, is sixth in the state in the Perfect Game rankings.
Off-Season / 2014 Pre-Season ...
Miller 3rd PC pitcher to sign early, with Nevada
SAN MARCOS (12-18-2013) -- Taylor Miller, a 6-foot-2 right-hander out of Poway High School who will be a sophomore pitcher on Palomar's 2014 baseball team, has become the third PC pitcher to commit early to a Division I program.
Miller will sign with the University of Nevada during the regular signing period that will begin April 16. Earlier, Zach Wilkins (Nevada) and Gary Cornish (University of San Diego) both signed during the Nov.13-20 early period. Like Miller, Wilkins and Cornish will be sophomore pitchers for the Comets in the spring.
Miller appeared in 15 games, 14 in relief and one in a starting role, for Palomar's 2013 team that won the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship and came within one win of avancing to the CCCAA state Final Four. He compiled a 2.95 ERA.
PC pitchers Wilkins, Cornish both sign early
SAN MARCOS (11-20-2013) -- Palomar pitchers Zach Wilkins and Gary Cornish both have signed NCAA Division I letters of intent and will transfer after they complete their sophomore seasons this upcoming spring.
Wilkins (left, photo by Hugh Cox) signed with the University of Nevada. Cornish (right) signed with the University of San Diego, where ex-Palomar pitching coach Tyler Kincaid is the pitching coach.
Wilkins, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-hander, is the brother of former Comet and ex-North Carolina State pitcher Ryan Wilkins, who currently pitches for the River City Rascals in the Independent Frontier League, and is the son of former Major League pitcher Dean Wilkins.
Zach Wilkins, a Scripps Ranch High School product, is Palomar's all-time single-season and career saves record holder with 12, during his freshman season of 2013. He went 3-0 with an ERA of 0.79 and made one start, throwing a five-hit, complete-game shutout to beat eventual state runner-up Fullerton 8-0, forcing an extra game in the Fullerton Super Regional.
Cornish, a product of Arcadia High School in Phoenix, led Division I St. Mary's College of California, which like USD is a member of the West Coast Athletic Conference, in appearances with 22 as a freshman reliever last spring. Cornish picked up a pair of wins, against Chicago State and Portland, and struck out a career-high seven twice, vs. Georgetown and Gonzaga.
A 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-hander, Cornish was considered the Gaels' No. 1 recruit in their 2013 recruiting class. He transferred from St. Mary's in the fall semester and will pitch for the Comets in the spring.
Vincent's ERA: 2.14 in 2013, 1.98 (MLB career)
SAN FRANCISCO (9-29-2013) -- Nick Vincent came on to get the San Diego Padres out of a seventh inning jam vs. the San Francisco Giants in the final game of the season on Sunday.
Even though the Padres eventually lost their final game 7-6, the Palomar and Long Beach State product concluded a spectacular second Major League season in typical fashion.
Vincent finished the year with a 2.14 ERA and a 6-3 win-loss record with 1 save. He appeared in 45 games, allowing only 33 hits in 46 1/3 innings while striking out 49 batters and walking 11. He wound up with eight no-hit, shutout relief appearances in his final eight games dating back to Sept. 11.
Vincent lowered his career ERA to 1.98. Over parts of his two Major League seasons, the right-hander has an 8-3 win-loss record with 1 save. He's appeared in 72 Major League games, allowing 52 hits in 72 2/3 innings, striking out 77 and walking 18.
Vincent relieved Tim Stauffer, who started the inning. He got Pablo Sandoval to ground out to first base to end the inning after the Giants had pushed across two runs that were both charged to Stauffer.
19 former Comets are playing professionally
SAN MARCOS (8-20-2013) / 8-24-2013 -- As of Aug. 24, Nick Vincent has made 11 straight scoreless Major Leaguer relief appearances for the San Diego Padres.
But there is plenty of proof beyond Vincent that there is life on the baseball diamond after Palomar. Lot's of life. Vincent is one of 19 former Palomar baseball players currently in pro ball.
Top minor league pitching numbers for the ex-Comets include James Hoyt's 2.48 ERA (1.29 for his last 10 appearances) for the Mississippi Braves, an Atlanta Braves affiliate in the Class AA Southern League; and Trevor Bayless' 1.10 ERA and 1-0 record for the Vermont Lake Monsters in the Class A short-season New York-Penn League.
Also, Patrick Smith's 3.58 ERA (1.23 for his last 10 appearances) for the Hillsboro Hops, an Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate in the Class-A short-season Northern League; Jeff Ibarra's 3-0 record for the San Antonio Missions, the Padres' affiliate in the Class AA Texas League; and Bobby Shore's 5-3 record for the High Desert Mavericks, a Seattle Mariners affiliate in the Advanced-A California League.
Marcus Hatley, meanwhile, has struck out 39 batters in 35 2/3 innings while going 2-1 for the Iowa Cubs, the Chicago Cubs' affiliate in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. Ibarra has 47 strikeouts in 46 innings. And Austin Muehring has struck out 21 batters in 18 1/3 innings for the Rookie classification Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League.
Top hitter as of Aug. 20 for ex-Comets in pro ball: Danny Bethea, who is batting .302 with 12 RBIs in 18 games for the Lowell Spinners in the New York-Penn League since being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in June.
Vincent and two members of the Hawaii Hilo Stars of the independent Pacific Association, outfielder Reece Alnas and pitcher Ronnie Loeffler, all play for other former Comets. Darren Balsley is in his 10th season as the Padres' pitching coach. Garry Templeton II is the manager of the Hawaii Hilo Stars.
The Pacific Association is made up of teams from Hawaii, California and Japan.
Pictured above: James Hoyt (left) and Danny Bethea (right)