'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
Wilkins, Montiel All-American; Sanders all-state
FRESNO (5-17-2013) --Palomar pitchers Zach Wilkins and Kyle Montiel were named to the All-State first team by the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association on Friday morning, an honor that carries automatic Community College All-American recognition.
Center fielder Chris Sanders was selected to the All-State second team and was All-Southern California.
Montiel was automatically selected to the state first team as the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
Balloting was conducted at the state coaches meeting, held in conjunction with the CCCAA State Championship Final Four being played at Fresno City College.
Wilkins is a freshman from Scripps Ranch High School. Montiel is a sophomore from Carlsbad High School. Sanders is a sophomore from Murrieta Valley High School.
Wilkins named as conference's Athlete of Week
SAN DIEGO (5-15-2013) --Palomar's Zach Wilkins is the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Men’s Athlete of the Week for all sports for the two weeks that ended on Sunday.
Wilkins, a freshman pitcher from Scripps Ranch High School, recorded his 10th and 11th saves of the season in 3-2 and 1-0 wins over Orange Coast in a first-round Southern Cal Regional Series, then came back to notch his 12th save in a 3-2 victory over Glendale in the Fullerton Super Regional.
He then switched to a starter’s role and pitched a complete-game, five-hit 8-0 shutout against Southern California No. 1 seed Fullerton, the host team at the Super Regional. The Comets eventually lost to the Hornets 7-6 in the finals as Fullerton moved on the this weekends CCCAA State Final Four.
ABOVE: Palomar's Matt Matlock slides into third base as Fullerton's left fielder can't get the ball into the infield on time after making an error on Chris Sanders' fifth-inning single in Sunday's second game. Comet head coach Buck Taylor is the third-base coach. -- Courtesy photo by Colleen Smith. BELOW LEFT: Pitcher Zach Wilkins, who went from his previous closer role to starter in the day's first game and shut out the Hornets 8-0 on a five-hit complete game. BELOW RIGHT:Chris Sanders. Sanders went 3-for-5 in a 10-2 win over Compton on Saturday (see below) and also was 3-for-5 in Sunday's first game. He had nine hits in five Super Regional games
Wilkins tosses shutout, then PC can't hold lead
FULLERTON (5-12-2013) --Ace closer Zach Wilkins pitced a masterful five-hit shutout to beat host and No. 1 seed Fullerton 8-0 in his first start of the season, keeping Palomar alive in the Fullerton Super Regional on Sunday.
But the Comets couldn't hold a 6-0 lead late in the day's second game and dropped a 7-6 heartbreaker to the Hornets for the championship of the Super Regional, sending Fullerton into this weekend's CCCAA State Final Four in Fresno and ending Palomar's season in agonizing disappointment.
The Hornets take a 30-13 record to Fresno while the Comets end the year 29-14.
"So close," Palomar coach Buck Taylor said to the San Diego Union-Tribune. And, for the Comets, so painful.
Game 1: Palomar 8, Fullerton 0 -- Wilkins, a freshman right-hander who set a PC record with 12 saves this season, completely shut down the surprised Hornets, throwing 124 pitches in the complete game. He hadn't pitched more than two innings in 19 previous appearances.
He had a two-hitter through the first six innings and silenced the bats of the heavy-hitting Hornets, the Orange Empire Conference champions and the top post-season seed in Southern California, all game long.
Chris Sanders led a 14-hit attack for the Comets, going 3-for-5 with two of his three RBIs for the day and a sacrifice fly. He had nine hits in the Super RegionalDillan Smith also went 3-for-5 and drove in a run.
Palomar jumped to a 4-0 lead in the second inning, getting RBI singles from Eric Sapp, Smith and Matt Matlock and Sanders' sacrifice fly. The Comets made it 7-0 with a three-run fourth inning that was highlighted by Sanders' RBI single and Becker Sankey's two-run home run that scored Sanders ahead of him.
Matlock and Anthony Fernandez had two singles each. Dennis Morton contributed an RBI single in the eighth inning. Justin Hargrove also had a single. And Palomar played nearly flawless defense, led by their middle infielders (Morton at shortstop, Smith at second).
Game 2: Fullerton 7, Palomar 6. Matlock's RBI single to the right side gave the Comets a 1-0 third-inning lead and the Comets continued on to a 6-0 lead through the top of the sixth behind the pitching of Taylor Miller, normally their set-up man.
But Miller began to tire, allowed a run in the bottom of the sixth and hit two batters with one out in the before coming out of the game. Fullerton came back with three runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth before usual Anthony McIver, who started against Glendale in the first game of the tournament on Friday, came in to put out the fire with a pop-up. By then, however, the damage had been done.
Sanders had an RBI single in the game. Smith, Morton, Sapp and Hargrove also hit safely. And Sankey, who caught 41 innings over the weekend, contributed a sacrifice fly and, as has been his specialty all season, was hit by two pitches in the game mand three times for the weekend. He reached base 14 times during the season as a hit batter.
PC downs Glendale, Compton to reach Day 3
FULLERTON (5-10-2013 / 5-11-2013) --Palomar reached Sunday's third day of the Fullerton Super Regional by defeating Glendale 3-2 on Friday and El Camino-Compton Center 10-2 on Saturday afternoon, sandwiched around a 5-1 loss to Southern Cal No.1 seed Fullerton College on Saturday morning.
Freshman right-hander Vaughn Berberet pitched a complete-game victory to beat Compton.
Friday: Palomar 3, Glendale 2 -- The Comets, who showed an ability to come from behind late in games all year, rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to overcome a 2-1 deficit against the Vaqueros.
With one out, Nico Garbella walked, Becker Sankey was hit by a pitch, Dennis Morton singled to drive in a run and Denny Vigo drove in another run with a sacrifrice fly.
Palomar took a 1-0 second-inning lead on Dillon Smith's RBI single and that's the way it remained until Glendale scored twice in the bottom of the eighth.
Garbella wet 2-for-3 and walked for the Comets. Eric Sapp contributed a double and Justin Hargrove and Sanders each had a single.
Taylor Miller (3-1) came on to earn the pitching win in relief and Zach Wilkins pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 12th save.
Saturday A.M.: Fullerton 5, Palomar 1 -- The Comets managed only three hits off the Hornets' Juan Beruman and Jacob Miller, singles by Matt Matlock in the second inning, Hargrove in the sevbenth and Sanders in the ninth. Morton drove in Garbella with Palomar's only runwith a sacrifice fly in the seventh. The Comets stranded runners at third base in the sixth and eighth innings.
Ryan Beliel pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-run relief.
Saturday P.M. Palomar 10, Compton 2 -- Berberet (6-1) allowed only one earned run in his first complete game of the season and the Comets banged out 11 hits to eliminate the Tartars. Compton had knocked Glendale out of the tournament in two games by beating the Vaqueros 4-3 in a morning game at Santa Ana College.
Sanders (3-for-5, double, RBI) and Garbella (2-for-5 before leaving the game with a rib injury in the bottom of the ninth had multiple hits for Palomar.
Smith, Morton, Matlock, Hargrove, Dylan Navarro and Anthony Fernandez each contributed a single.
The Comets, leading 2-1, broke the game open with seven runs in the fifth.
PHOTOS: Palomar second baseman Dylan Smith fields a grounder and throws out Compton's Juan Avena for the third out in the bottomof the seventh. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. Vaughn Berbert, who pitched a complete game against the Tartars to advance to 6-1 on the season.
Vaughn Berberet (above) and his Palomar teammates are Super Regional-bound. -- Photo by Hugh Cox
Comets vs. Glendale on Fri. in Super Regional
SAN MARCOS (5-5-2013) --The Palomar baseball team (26-11) will play Glendale (27-11) on Friday at 11 a.m. to begin the three-day Fullerton College Super Regional.
The Comets won two of three games to defeat Orange Coast in first-round play over the weekend, while the Vaqueros swept Grossmont in their first-round series.
Fullerton (27-12) and El Camino Compton Center (24-16) are the other teams in the Super Regional, one of two in Southern California next weekend, and will square off in Friday's 3 p.m. game.
Friday's winners will play on Saturday at 11 a.m. while the losers play at an alternate site at 10 a.m. The 11 a.m. loser and the 10 a.m. winner will play an elimination game Saturday at 3 p.m. The 11 a.m.winner will sit back and await an 11 a.m. Sunday meeting with Saturday afternoon's winner.
An extra game in the double-elimination tournament, if needed, would follow on Sunday afternoon.
The Fullerton Super Regional winner and the survivor of the Saddleback Super Regional (College of the Canyons, Saddleback, Cypress and Mt. SAC) will advance to the CCCAA State Championship Final Four on May 17-18-19 at Fresno City College along with the winners of two Northern California Super Regionals.
ABOVE: Denny Vigo, who had walked with two out, rounds third and heads home to score the only run of the series' third and deciding game in the second inning. He scored on Justin Hargrove's double to the bank in left field. OCC's Cody Bruder fields the ball in the background. BELOW LEFT:Zach Wilkins, who notched his 11th save to break two Palomar records he previously shared, delivers a pitch in the ninth inning. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Vaughn Berberet, who threw the first eight innings and was the winning pitcher
Berberet, Wilkins pitch PC into Super Regional
SAN MARCOS (5-4-2013) --After Orange Coast tied the teams' first-round Southern California Best 2-of-3 series at a game each by winning Saturday's first game 5-2, Palomar's Vaughn Berberet and Zach Wilkins took command in the deciding second game.
Berberet and Wilkins combined on a four-hitter to shut out the Pirates 1-0, giving the Comets the series two games to one and putting them into a four-team Super Regional next weekend at either Fullerton College or Saddleback.
Berberet, a red-shirt freshman left-hander, blanked Coast on four hits over the first eight innings. Wilkins, a true freshman right-hander who tied the Comets' single-season and career records in a 3-2 win on Friday, came on to relieve Berbert to begin the top of the ninth and retired the Pirates 1-2-3 for his 11th save.
That gives him both the single-season and career marks by himself with one and possibly two weekends remaining in the Comets' season.
After going 0-and-2 against Orange Coast lead-off batter Zach Nehrir to begin the ninth inning, Wilkins retired Nehrir on a groundball to shortstop Dennis Morton. He struck out Austin Saenz looking and Danny Jimenez swinging for the game's final two outs.
Justin Hargrove drove in the game's only run in the second inning to lift Palomar to the win. He doubled to left center to drive in Denny Vigo, who had worked OCC left-hander Evan Porcella for a two-out walk. Porcella pitched a four-hitter in a losing cause for the Pirates.
Dillan Smith provided two of the Comets' four hits in the game, a single to left in the third inning and a bunt single to the third baseman in the eighth. Morton contributed the other hit, a single in the seventh.
Berberet made two huge defensive plays to help himself out.
The first came on a second-inning pickoff in a first-and-third situation when he teamed with Smith, his second baseman, to get Coast's Cody Bruder in a rundown between second and third. Berberet and Smith both held Manny Argomaniz at third during the play, as Berberet threw the ball to Smith, who threw back to Berberet who tagged out Bruder for out No. 3.
Berberet's second big defensive play came to lead off the eighth inning, when he somehow knocked down a screaming line drive back at him by Chris Iriart, then reacted quickly to field the ball which was bouncing away from him and threw out Iriart at first.
Center fielder Chris Sanders left his feet to make two big catches in the sixth and seventh innings and Hargrove, playing left, ran down a long fly ball hit by hit by Iriart down the left-field line in the fifth.
Vigo 3-for-4 in A.M. game, but OCC ties series
SAN MARCOS (5-4-2013) --Palomar knocked out 10 hits in Saturday morning's second game of its first-round CCCAA Southern California Regional series against Orange Coast at Myers Field.
But it wasn't enough as the Pirates won 5-2 to force a third game on Saturday afternoon.
Denny Vigo went 3-for-4 for the Comets in the morning game. He drove in a second-inning run after Dennis Morton and Trey Gueda singled back-to-back with one out.
Vigo then singled through the left side to score Morton.
The Comets' other run came in the eighth inning. Chris Sanders doubled down the left field line and Becker Sankey drove him in with a single to right.
Gueda went 2-for-4 in the game. Smith and pinch-hitter Matt Matlock singled to round out the 10-hit attack.
Palomar got a big-time effort from relief pitcher Cody Ells in the eighth inning, OCC's last at-bat of the afternoon (the Pirates were home team for the middle game of the series).
Ells, a freshman right-hander from Rim of the World High School, came on at the beginning of the inning and struck out Anthony Virgen and Chris Iriart, then got Cody Bruder to fly out to Sanders in center field for the third out.
ABOVE: Palomar shortstop Dennis Morton takes throw from catcher Becker Sankey and tags out Orange Coast's Greg Espinosa tryng to steal second in the fourth inning on Friday. BELOW: Zach Wilkins strikes out pinch-hitter Jacob Hill for the final out of the game in the top of the ninth. Wilkins picked up his 10th save of the season to tie the Palomar record. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
PC tops Coast, goes for series victory Saturday
SAN MARCOS (5-03-2013) -- Freshman right-hander Zach Wilkins tied Palomar's single-season and career saves record on Friday and the Comets opened play in the Southern California Regionals with a 3-2 victory over visiting Orange Coast.
The Comets can clinch the Round 1 best 2-of-3 series by beating the Pirates again on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Myers Field. A third game, if necessary, would follow.
Anthony McIver pitched the first eight innings of Friday's win, advancing to 5-0 on the season, before Wilkins came on to retire Orange Coast 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth with a strikeout, ground ball and another strikeout. That gave him his 10th save.
Wilkins, brother of former Comet and current North Carolina State pitcher Ryan Wilkins, tied the Palomar single-season record set in 2009 by Casey Edelbrock, who later pitched for Lewis-Clark State in the NAIA World Series and in the Kansas City Royals organization.
Wilkins also equaled the Palomar career saves record, also 10, set by Jerry Stafford (1989-90) and tied by Chris Adams (1991-92), Edelbrock and Nick Carmichael (2011-12). Stafford went on to pitch for San Diego State and in the Florida Marlins organization. Adams later pitched for New Mexico. Carmichael currently pitches in the Detroit Tigers organization.
The Comets (25-11) fell behind 2-0 after 2 1/2 innings, tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the third, then scored what turned out to be the winning run in the fourth.
Eric Sapp doubled, Dillan Smith singled and Becker Sankey knocked out an RBI single to highlight the third-inning rally. Vaughn Burberet walked to lead off the fourth, advanced to second on Justin Hargrove's sacrifice bunt and scored the winning run on an error with Sapp batting.
For the game, Sapp went 2-for-3 with a double and single. Dillan Smith went 2-for-4. Dennis Morton also was 2-for-4 and made a series of outstanding defensive plays at shortstop in his first game back from a knee injury.
Sankey came up big twice defensively. He gunned down Orange Coast's Greg Espinosa tryig to steal second in the fourth. He also stabbed a low pop-up hit by Manny Argomaniz just above his head in the eighth inning and gunned the ball to Morton, who made an athletic play to get Manny Jiminez, who had doubled, as he tried to get back to second.
Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year Kyle Montiel (7-1) will pitch for the Comets in Saturday's 10 a.m. game.
Orange Coast falls to 22-15.
Montiel and Taylor are Player, Coach of Year
SAN DIEGO (4-29-2013) -- Palomar landed seven players on the All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball team on Monday evening. The Comets' Kyle Montiel (left, photo by Hugh Cox) was voted Player of the Year honors by PCAC coaches. And Buck Taylor has been named the conference's Coach of the Year.
Montiel, a sophomore left-hander from Carlsbad High School who had a 7-0 conference record and 1.63 ERA for Palomar's conference championship team, was joined on the first team by two other PC pitchers, sophomore left-hander Anthony McIver and freshman right-handed closer Zach Wilkins. Freshman left-handed pitcher / outfielder Vaughn Berberet, was the first-team utility player.
The other Comets receiving first-team recognition were sophomore outfielders Chris Sanders and Nico Garbella, freshman infielder Dillan Smith and freshman Dennis Morton at designated hitter.
Comets host Orange Coast in 1st-round series
SAN MARCOS (4-28-2013) --Palomar's Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball champions have been seeded sixth in the 18-team CCCAA Southern California Regionals and will begin a best-of-3 series against Orange Coast on Friday at 2 p.m. at Myers Field.
The Comets come in with a 24-11 record. The Pirates, the fifth-place finishers in the Orange Empire Conference, come in at 22-14.
The series will continue on Saturday at 10 a.m. An additional game, if necessary, would follow immediately.
PC alum Wilkins will start vs. No. 1 Tar Heels
RALEIGH, North Carolina (4-25-2013) -- Former Palomar All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference pitcher Ryan Wilkins has moved into the Friday Night starter's role for nationally No. 6-ranked North Carolina State.
And he'll put his 5-1 record and 3.16 ERA on the line when the Wolfpack hosts the nation's No. 1-ranked team, North Carolina, to open the ACC rivals' three-game series on Friday at Doak Field in Raleigh. The series is a sellout, with North Carolina State bringing the nation's longest Division I win streak of 15 games in a row into the game.
Wilkins, a 6-foot-2, 219-pound right-hander who came to Palomar from Cathedral Catholic High School, was 5-2 a year ago as an NC State junior, recording two wins with 6 2/3 shutout innings out of the bullpen vs. Vanderbilt to enable the Wolfpack to win the Raleigh Regional and advance to the Gainesville Super Regionals vs. overall No. 1 national seed Florida.
Against the Gators, Wilkins piched 5 1/3 strong relief innings in the second and deciding game to force extra innings but was out of the game by the time Florida won to advance to the College World Series.
Wilkins went 6-3 with three saves in making the All-PCAC first team as a Palomar freshman in 2010. As a sophomore in 2011, he was 4-2 with one save.
He's the older brother of current Palomar closer Zach Wilkins, a freshman right-hander out of Scripps Ranch High who is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA and nine saves for the Comets, one save short of the Palomar record, entering the Southern California Regonals.
Ryan and Zach Wilkins are the sons of Dean Wilkins, a right-handed pitcher who was selected in the first round out of San Diego Mesa College by the New York Yankees in the old January draft in 1986 and pitched from 1989-1991 in the Major Leagues for the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros.
ABOVE LEFT PHOTO: Ryan Wilkins is shown picking up the win vs. Vandervilt in 2-12 as he pitches NC State into the Super Regionals. ABOVE RIGHT: Wilkins as a Palomar sophomore in 2011
Comets' silent bats unable to support pitchers
SAN DIEGO (4-25-2013) -- First, one must set the record straight.
Other than Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champion Palomar's being able to get work for its pitchers entering the Southern California playoffs and San Diego City College's frantically looking to close 2012 with a win after falling behind the Comets 4 games to 0 in the teams' season series, the game meant nothing.
The Knights won 1-0 as the Comets' bats went silent, managing only four hits against two City College pitchers.
For its part, Palomar got both superb pitching and superb defense in the game.
Starter Kyle Montiel (left) began the game with six 2-hit, shutout innings, striking out 6 batters, before coming out to get three other pitchers pre-playoff work.
Montiel, Emilio Esquibel, Taylor Miller and Rusty Edwards combined to throw a six-hitter at the Knights. Edwards (right) entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and handcuffed City College with a scoreless relief inning, striking out two.
Defensively, the Comets made three huge plays.
Center fielder Chris Sanders and first baseman Denny Vigo made back-to-back diving catches in the bottom of the second.
Sanders made his catch coming straight in on Ryan McClanahan's siking liner, matching his two diving catches in Tuesday's 4-3, 12-inning victory on Tuesday vs. San Diego Mesa.
Vigo sprinted back in foul territory and made an even more-spectacular catch of Randy Carrazco's foul pop-up as he laid out approaching the fence down the rightfield line.
The Comets' big scoring threat came in the top of the first first when Sanders singled to left with one out and, with two down, Becker Sankey singled to right. But the next batter hit a foul pop-up to the first baseman.
That was one of 15 pop-ups that Palomar hit to City College infielders.
The Comets' only other hits came on Josh Hargrove's double to center in the third inning and a single to the right side by Dillan Smith in the fifth.
San Diego scored the game's only run in the seventh inning, one Palomar barely missed averting when a relay to first base on what would have been an inning-ending double play was ruled late.
While the Knights (15-17, 13-12 in the PCAC) put their gear away, the Comets (24-11, 21-4) await Sunday's Southern California seeding meeting and will begin the post-season at home at Myers Field a week from Friday, on May 3.
ABOVE:Dillan Smith gets down a perfect bunt to advance Nolan Barraza, who had singled, to third and Eric Sapp, who had reached base on a walk, to second with none out in the bottom of the 12th. Mesa pitcher Andrew Dages went to third too late to get Barraza. Smith was safe on a sacrifice and fielder's choice to load the bases and the Comets went on to score three runs and win the game 4-3. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Chris Sanders (left) and Nico Garbella (right), who drove in runs in the inning.
Comets, down 3-1 in the 12th, find a way to win
SAN MARCOS (4-23-2013) -- Palomar, trailing 3-1 to begin the bottom of the 12th inning, found a way to win Tuesday's next-to-last game of the regular season. The Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champions scored three runs to defeat San Diego Mesa 4-3 at Myers Field.
The victory was the Southern California sixth-ranked Comets' 15th in their last 16 games and 21st in their last 23 games and allowed them to keep their momentum intact leading up to Sunday's regional seeding meeting.
After Mesa scored two runs to take the lead in the top of the 12th, the Comets stormed back in the bottom of the inning to load the bases on Nolan Barraza's single to center, a walk to Eric Sapp and Dillan Smith's sacrifice bunt. That loaded the bases when Mesa pitcher Andrew Dages went to third in an unsuccessful attempt to get Barraza, the lead runner.
Smith was credited with a sacrifice and fielder's choice and the next batter, Chris Sanders, singled to right field to drive in Barraza and cut the Olympians' lead to 3-2. Palomar coach Buck Taylor held Sapp at third and Nico Garbella followed with a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Sapp and tie the game 3-3.
Matt Matlock's groundball to the right side moved the runners to second and third and Smith scored the winning run when Dylan Navarro forced him in by getting hit by a pitch.
Matt Dinerman, the sixth Palomar pitcher of the afternoon, came in to get the final out in the top of the 12th and picked up the win. Starter Anthony McIver, Ryan Beliel, Isidro Perez, Zach Wilkins, Taylor Miller and Dinerman combined to throw an eight-hitter, allowing a total of one earned run between them.
They were helped along by two spectacular diving catches by Sanders in center.
Mesa, trailing 1-0 from the second inning on, had tied the game in the top of the ninth off Wilkins, Palomar's closer, on a bad-hop single through the right side.
Palomar banged out 12 hits.
Four Comets contributed multiple hits: Sanders (2-for-6, RBI), Garbella (2-for-5, sac fly, RBI), Justin Hargrove (2-for-5, double) and Trey Guedea (2-for-4). Smith, Vaughn Berberet, Barraza and Sapp all singled. Smith, Barazza and Sapp all got down successful sacrifice bunts while Matlock, Guedea and Navarro all reached base by getting hit by pitches.
The Comets (24-10, 21-3 in conference) will close out the regular season with a 2 p.m. game Thursday against San Diego City College at Morley Field in Balboa Park. They'll then be off until they host a first-round Southern California Regional series against an undetermined opponent on Friday and Saturday of next week at Myers Field, with one game Friday, a second game Saturday and a third game, if needed to follow immediately after the game second.
ABOVE:Eric Sapp slides into third base with a triple for the Comets in the third inning. -- Photo by Hugh Gerhardt. BELOW: Matt Matlock, one of four Comets with two hits each
PC plays sloppy game but wins title by selves
SAN MARCOS (4-20-2013) --Palomar played a sloppy, error-filled game on Saturday at Myers Field but the Comets' 11-4 victory over visiting Imperial Valley was as functional as could be.
After wrapping up no worse than a tie for the championship earlier in the week, the Comets clinched the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference title by themselves. The conference championship is the fifth in in Buck Taylor's eight seasons as head coach and the 15th ever for Palomar.
Palomar made up for seven sloppy errors with a 17-hit attack against the Arabs. Nolan Barraza (2-for-3, triple, 2 RBIs), Becker Sankey (2-for-3, double, 2 RBIs), Dillan Smith (2-for-4, RBI, hit by pitch, 2 stolen bases) and Matt Matlock (2-for-4, RBI, stolen base) had multiple hits.
Eric Sapp tripled and Denny Vigo doubled. Chris Sanders, Armando Valencia, Nico Garbella, Bubba Craig, Dylan Navarro, Trey Guedea and Troy Forester each added a hit.
Vaughn Berberet, the Comets' starter, pitched six innings of four-hit ball to move to 4-1 on the season. He allowed four runs, all unearned as Palomar made five of their errors behind him.
The Comets are 23-10, 20-3 in the PCAC with two regular-season games remaining. They host San Diego Mesa on Tuesday at 2 p.m. and will visit San Diego City College on Thursday at the same time.
Grossmont, which already has clinched second place, now finds itself four games behind Palomar with two regular-season games left.
ABOVE: Chris Sandersslides into third base on a seventh-inning triple which tied Thursday's game at Grossmont 5-5. BELOW: Grossmont's Billy Flamion slides in high at second in the top of the fourth inning as Palomar shortstop Dennis Morton waits for a throw from right field. Morton went down on the play and had to be helped from the field with an injury to his right knee on the play.-- Photos by Hugh Cox
Bid for undisputed title put off for at least a day
EL CAJON (4-18-2013) --Palomar lost shortstop Dennis Morton to a knee injury in the fourth inning and lost Friday's game at Grossmont on a bases-loaded squeeze bunt in the bottom of the ninth.
The loss to the second-place Griffins, which snapped the Comets' win streak at 13 games, delayed Palomar's shot at clinching the undisputed Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship by at least two days -- but the big concern is Morton's right knee. He had to be helped from the field after a play at second.
Palomar (22-10, 19-3 in conference), which clinched at least a tie for the PCAC title by beating Southwestern on Tuesday, was trying to win its season series from Grossmont 5 games to 0. Instead, the Comets won the series 4 games to 1. The Griffins (24-9, 16-6) clinched undisputed second place with the victory.
Chris Sanders went 2-for-3 for the Comets with a triple over the left fielder's head that drove in Eric Sapp with the tying run in the top of the seventh, after they entered the inning trailing 5-4. Matt Matlock had led off the inning with a single through the left side, and Sapp was on base on a fielder's choice that forced Matlock at second.
Sanders also singled, drew a walk, scored two runs and executed a sacrifice bunt -- and made a diving catch in center field that robbed Grossmont's Jesse Jenner of a hit to lead off the bottom of the seventh.
Grossmont center fielder Kacy Smith returned the favor the following inning when he sprinted toward the fence and, with his back to the plate, caught a long drive by Nolan Barraza to rob him of an extra-base hit.
Zach Wickham pitched three strong relief innings but took the loss in the ninth. He had left the game when pinch hitter Javier Gonzalez drove in the winning run on a picture-perfect squeeze.
Palomar's pitching staff surrendered the first home run by an opposing team all season when Flamion hit a two-run shot to right field off starter Kyle Montiel in the fifth.
Saturday's Palomar-IVC game will be played at Myers Field at 12 noon. The Comets lead Grossmont by three games with three to play, and will play their final two regular-season games next week when they host San Diego Mesa on Tuesday and travel to Morley Field in Balboa Park to face San Diego City College on Thursday.
ABOVE:With legendary 79-year-old longtime Southwestern coach Jerry Bartow watching, Becker Sankey doubles to drive in two runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game 3-3 on Tuesday. BELOW: Closer Zach Wilkins pitches to the Jaguars' Carlos Carriedo, the game's final batter, with two out in the top of the ninth in a 4-3 win.Wilkins retired the side in order in the inning and picked up his ninth save. -- Photos by Hugh Cox.
Comets rally in 9th for 4-3 win, clinch title tie