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2014 Season ...
ABOVE:Dillan Smith heads toward third as he scores Palomar's sixth run of the day on Saturday on Dennis Morton's two-run double in the fourth inning. IVC shortstop Gio Leon sprawls helplessly after the ball in the background. BELOW: Morton slides into third with the triple. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
PCAC champion Comets run win streak to 12
SAN MARCOS (4-18-2014) -- With three games to play in the regular season, Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball champion Palomar is getting ready for the state playoffs with the state's second-longest winning streak.
The Comets (24-9 on the season, 19-2 in conference) pounded Imperial Valley 9-1 on Friday at Myers Field behind the pitching of starter Emilio Esquibel and seven relievers. They ran their most recent win streak to 12 games, second in California only to Chabot's 20-game streak up in Northern California. Palomar last lost a game on March 15, 33 days ago.
Esquibel advanced to 7-1 for his sophomore season as he allowed one run over the first five innings before departing with an 8-1 lead. Anthony Balderas, Troy Forester, Cody Ells, Kamden Haglund, Robert Woodcock, Rusty Huber and Gary Cornish shut out the Arabs on two hits the rest of the way.
At the plate, Dennis Morton went 3-for-5 for the Comets with a triple and three RBIs. Palomar had four other players with multiple hits, Anthony Fernandez (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI), Chris Stratton (2-4, 2 RBIs), Nolan Barraza (2-3, RBI) and Matt Matlock (2-4). Eric Sapp and Alec Salcedo had one hit each, rounding out the Comets' 13 hit attack.
Salcedo, who replaced team batting leader Dillan Smith in centerfield in the eighth, threw out IVC's Oscar Ruiz trying to score from second on a single with two out in the top of the inning. Smith had done the same thing to get Juan Valdez at the plate in the fourth inning of Tuesday's game at Imperial Valley, a play that set the tone for the Comets' three-game series sweep.
Palomar will close the regular season with a three-game series vs. third-place Grossmont during the upcoming week, at the G-House on Tuesday, at Myers Field on Thursday and back at Grossmont on Friday.
Southwestern (24-9, 14-7) took over undisputed second place and has the inside track for the conference's second playoff berth after beating San Diego Mesa 5-3 on Friday. Grossmont (21-11, 13-8) lost to Mt. San Jacinto 12-6. The Jaguars trail the Comets by five games with three to play, while the Griffins are six games out.
FRIDAY'S BOX | 2014 STATISTICS
TOP PHOTO:Palomar's Dillan Smith, who went 4-for-5, couldn't have come much closer to hitting a home run in the seventh inning on Thursday. IVC right fielder Jared Espinoza had no chance to catch the ball, but it barely stayed in the yard. Smith settled for a triple. Head coach / third-base coach Buck Taylor is at right as Smith stands at the third-base bag. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Zach Bonneau, aboard on a single, rounds third and heads home to score on Bubba Craig's sevent-inning double. BELOW: PC second baseman Chris Stratton forces the Arabs' Isaiah Cruz at second in the fourth inning on Oscar Ruiz' double-play ball. Stratton took a throw from third baseman Nolan Barraza and somehow relayed the ball to first baseman Eric Sapp to get Cruz. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
Smith (4-for-5), Comets clinch title outright
SAN MARCOS (4-17-2014) -- Palomar sophomore centerfielder Dillan Smith is red hot. So is his team.
Smith went 4-for-5 and tripled on Thursday, has nine hits in his last 14 at-bats, and was the biggest reason the Comets clinched their fourth straight Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball championship by beating Imperial Valley 11-1 at Myers Field.
With their 11th straight win, the Comets are 23-9 overall and 18-2 in the PCAC heading into another 2 p.m.match-up with IVC at home on Friday.
With four games to play, Palomar is five games up on Southwestern and Grossmont, who are tied for second and and relegated to battling for the conference's runner-up spot. The Jaguars defeated San Diego Mesa on Thursday 3-2, while the Griffins beat Mt. San Jacinto 12-2.
Zach Wilkins (8-1) pitched four-hit ball over the first five innings to record the win. He left the game with an 8-1 lead. Anthony Balderas, Kamden Haglund, Cody Ells, Rusty Huber and Gaqry Cornish pitched two-hit, shutout ball over the final four innings.
Smith, who is batting .374 on the season and .425 in conference games both of which lead the Comets, singled in the first inning. The sophomore from Temescal Canyon High School in Elsinore hit a long fly ball to center that was caught by the Arabs' Isaiah Cruz in the second inning. He singled in the fourth, singled again in the fifth, barely missed a home run when he tripled to right field in the seventh and was walked in the bottom of the eighth. Smith scored two runs.
Also for the Comets, Eric Sapp went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, while Matt Matlock was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Alec Salcedo went 2-for-2 with a double and three RBIs. Dennis Morton had two singles. Nolan Barraza contributed a single and two RBIs. Bubba Craig doubled in a run. And Zach Bonneau singled in a run, rounding out a 17-hit attack.
After Friday's game with IVC, the Comets will play a three-game series with Grossmont next week to close out the regular season.
Comets clinch tie for title with five games left
IMPERIAL (4-15-2014) -- Jake Barnett struck out nine batters in five innings and Dylan Smith went 3-for-4 with a sacrifice fly, a walk and two RBIs on Tuesday as Palomar clinched no worse than a tie for another conference baseball championship.
This, with five games still remaining.
The Comets smacked host Imperial Valley 14-1 as Barnett advanced to 6-0 in conference. Coupled with Mt. San Jacinto's 13-2 upset of second-place Grossmont, that means Palomar can wrap up its fourth straight Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship outright by beating IVC on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Myers Field.
By running their latest win streak to 10 games, the Comets upped their record to 22-9 on the season, 17-2 in the PCAC. Southwestern moved back into a tie for second place with Grossmont by rallying to beat San Diego Mesa 7-4.
Barnett was followed to the mound by Troy Forester, Kamden Haglund, Zach Wickham, Robert Woodcock and Taylor Miller. The six pitchers combined to stop the Arabs with a combined seven-hitter.
At the plate, Palomar jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back, tacking on two runs in the third inning, onein the fourth, two in the sixth, one in the seventh and three in the top of the eighth.
Dennis Morton, Nolan Barraza and Chris Stratton joined Smith with multiple hits. Morton went 2-for-4 with a triple, a sacrifice bunt, a walk and an RBI. Barraza was 2-for-5 with a sacrifrice fly and an RBI. Stratton went 2-for-4 and drove in a run.
Matt Matlock, Francis Christy, Anthony Balderas, Alec Salcedo, Nathan Mann, Bubba Craig each had a single. The Comets had a season-high of five sacrifice flies -- With Matlock, Balderas and Salcedo contibuting one each to join Smith and Barraza. Palomar stole five bases, and Sapp reached base as a hit batter for the ninth and 10th time this season.
Both Grossmont's and Southwestern's hopes of tyng Palomar for the PCAC title hanging by the thinnest of threads. The Griffins and Jaguars face a scenario in which each or both teams win all five of their remaining games -- the Comets would have to lose their last five games.
The Comets will play IVC back-to-back days at Myers Field, also facing the Arabs at 2 p.m. on Friday.
PICTURED ABOVE:Jake Barnett (left), Dylan Smith (right)
Vincent: 2 perfect outings vs. Tigers, Rockies
SAN DIEGO (4-12-2014 / 4-14-2014) --Palomar alum Nick Vincent continued to baffle opposing batters on the major league level with perfect relief performances for the San Diego Padres against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday and the the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
Vincent pitched a 1-2-3 inning in Thursday's 6-2 loss to the Tigers, striking out Miguel Cabrera. On Monday, the ex-Comet came on with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth and got the Padres out of the inning with one pitch, as Troy Tulowitski lined into a double play. Vincent then retired the side in the seventh inning as the Padres beat the Rockies 5-4.
Vincent now has a 1.50 ERA for six innings pitched in seven appearances for the season, allowing three hits with five strikeouts and two walks. For his Major League career he's 8-3 in two-plus seasons with a 1.94 ERA, giving up 55 hits with 82 strikeouts and 20 walks over 78 2/3 innings.
TOP PHOTO:Palomar's Chris Stratton rounds third base to score on Dennis Morton's fifth-inning single as Mesa defenders try to chase down the ball in the background. SECOND FROM TOP: Alex Salcedo gets a bunt down for a base hit in the Comets' three-run seventh inning. BELOW LEFT: Salcedo makes his second-inning catch to steal an extra-base hit away from the Olympians' Garrett Schilling. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Matt Matlock, who went 3-for-4
Matlock, Smith, Salcedo spark PC to 9th in row
SAN MARCOS (4-12-2014) -- Dillan Smith and Matt Matlock combined to bang out five of Palomar's nine hits and rightfielder Alex Salcedo made a spectacular running, leaping catch on Saturday as Palomar closed in on its third straight conference bseball championship.
The Comets recorded their ninth straight win, defeating San Diego Mesa 5-3 at Myers Field, and are four games up on the second-place team, Grossmont, with six games to play. In Chula Vista, third-place Southwestern gave Palomar a welcome boost by knocking off the Griffins 8-3.
Salcedo's catch, which robbed Mesa's Garrett Schilling of an extra-base hit to lead off the top of the second, set the tone for the Comets as they won their ninth game in a row and moved to 21-9 on the season, 15-2 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference.
Then, with the Olympians leading 2-0, the Comets scored two runs in the fifth inning to tie the game and three more in the seventh to win it.
When the dust had cleared, Matlock had gone 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Smith went 2-for-3 with an R BI and also reached base as a hit batter.
Eric Sapp singled to center with one out to get Palomar's two-run fifth inning untracked. Mesa's catcher interferred as Salcedo, the next batter, attempted to swing the bat. A fielder's choice grounder by Chris Stratton advanced to Sapp to third, from where he scored the Comets' first run on a wild pitch.Smith singled to drive in Stratton, tying the game at 2-2.
Sapp again got things rolling in Palomar's three-run seventh inning which won it when he was hit by a pitch.Salcedo and Stratton loaded the bases with back-to-back bunt singles. Smith forced in the go-ahead run when he was hit by a pitch, and Matlock and Morton followed with RBI singles to make it 5-2.
Emilio Esquibel (6-1) pitched the first seven innings to record the win, scattering seven hits. He was followed to the mound by Cody Ells and Gary Cornish, who earned his fourth save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Southwestern's upset over Grossmont gives the Comets an opportunity to clinch the conference title next week by sweeping a three-game series from last-place. Imperial Valley on Tuesday at IVC, and Thursday and Friday at Myers Field.
Palomar and Grossmont play a three-game set to close out the regular season the following week.
Catcher Craig 7th 2014 Comet to move on
SAN MARCOS (4-12-2014) -- Back-up catcher Jaison "Bubba" Craig is the seventh 2014 Palomar baseball sophomore to commit to the four-year college level.
Craig (left), a sophomore from Vista Murrieta High School, has accepted a scholarship to NCAA Division II Hawaii Pacific University of Honolulu.
Earlier Division I commits were pitchers Zach Wilkins (Scripps Rancho High School) to the University of Nevada, Gary Cornish (a transfer from St. Mary's College of California) to the University of San Diego, Taylor Miller (Poway High) to Nevada and Vaughn Berberet (Fallbrook High) to Long Beach State.
Shortstop Dennis Morton (Temecula Valley High School) and Matt Silberman (Vista Murrieta High) are mving on to the NAIA level, to defending national champion Faulkner University Montgomery, AL, and Vanguard University.
TOP PHOTO:Palomar pitcher Zach Wilkins, who advanced to 7-1 on the season with a complete-game victory, deals to the plate against Mesa in the first inning on Thursday. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Left fielder Matt Matlock catches a flyball hit bhy Mesa's Conner Wilson for the second out in the fourth inning. BELOW: First baseman Eric Sapp picks a throw from shortstop Dennis Morton, completing a double play that got the Comets out of the eighth inning. Wilson hit a grounder to second baseman Chris Stratton, who threw to second to get the Olympians' Ryan Lawson. Stratton then relayed the ball to Sapp. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
Wilkins' six-hitter gives Comets 20th victory
SAN DIEGO (4-10-2014) -- Sophomore right-hander Zach Wilkins beat host San Diego Mesa 3-1 with a complete-game six-hitter on Thursday, lifting Palomar's Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball leaders to their 20th win of the season.
The Comets (20-9, 15-2 in conference) lead second-place Grossmont, a 7-6 winner over Southwestern, by three games with seven to play. The Jaguars remain in third place, but drop five games out of first.
Wilkins (7-1) had a two-hit shutout and a 3-0 lead through the first six innings. The Olympians (16-13, 8-9) finally got on the board, scoring their only run in the bottom of the seventh on Kyle Harris' ground-ball out to the right side that scored Garrett Schilling, who led off the inning with a single.
Wilkins then got out of the inning by getting Robert Reynolds to pop out to second baseman Chris Stratton and Michaelangelo Gaspasin to fly out to Dillan Smith in center.
At the plate, Palomar got maximum mileage from five hits off six Mesa pitchers. Jared Hunt, who is coming back from an injury led the Comets offensively by going 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs. What would have been Hunt's second extra- base hit of the afternoon, an apparent double, was erased on an appeal play after he missed first base.
Smith, Eric Sapp and Stratton singled for the other Palomar hits.
The Comets took a 1-0 lead with two out in the second inning when Hunt tripled into the rightfield corner to drive in Sapp, who had singled and stolen second.
They tacked on two runs in the top of the fourth on a walk to Sapp, Alec Salcedo's sacrifice bunt, Hunt's RBI single through the right side, a passed ball and Smith's squeeze bunt that scored Hunt from third.
Palomar ran its current win streak to eight games. The Comets have won 16 of their last 18.
Palomar will try to sweep the week's three-game series between the two teams and take another step toward a third straight PCAC championship on Saturday when the Comets and Olympians square off at Myers Field. Game time is at noon.
Dennis Morton, whose inside-the-park grand slam home run in the fourth broke the game open, successfully steals second base as he beats the tag by San Diego Mesa's Hunter Landry in the Comets' 6-4 win on Tuesday. -- Photo by Hugh Cox
Morton signs with NAIA national champion
SAN MARCOS (4-08-2014) -- Palomar shortstop Dennis Morton, a sophomore out of Temecula Valley High School, has committed to 2013 NAIA World Series champion Faulkner University of Montgomery, Alabama.
Morton is batting .315 for the Comets with eight doubles, two triples, three home runs and a .505 slugging percentage. He's hitting .324 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference.
Former Comet Julian Esquibel pitched Faulkner to the NAIA title last season as a junior. Esquibel is sidelined with an elbow injury this season and is slated to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Morton becomes the sixth sophomore from this year's Palomar team to commit to the four-year level.
Earlier commits were pitchers Zach Wilkins (Scripps Rancho High School) to the University of Nevada, Gary Cornish (a transfer from St. Mary's College of California) to the University of San Diego, Taylor Miller (Poway High) to Nevada, Vaughn Berberet (Fallbrook High) to Long Beach State and Matt Silberman (Vista Murrieta High) to Vanguard University.
ABOVE:Matt Matlock comes around from second base to score Palomar's first run of the game on a ball hit by Dennis Morton in the first inning vs. San Diego Mesa on Tuesday. BELOW LEFT: Reliever Cody Ells, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Comets, deals to the plate. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Winning pitcher Rusty Huber
Comets show effects of 10-day layoff, still win
SAN MARCOS (4-08-2014) -- Palomar showed all the effects of a 10-day layoff as the Comets returned to baseball action against San Diego Mesa on Tuesday at Myers Field.
But they held on to take a sloppy 6-4 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference victory after the Olympians, trailing by five runs, rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth inning.
The conference-leading Comets remain three games ahead of second-place Grossmont, which beat Southwestern 5-4 in 10 innings on Tuesday, with eight games remaining. The Jaguars, who were tied for second before Tuesday's games, is another game back in third.
Palomar, leading 2-1, broke the game open with an inside-the-park, grand-slam slam home run to right field by Dennis Morton in the bottom of the fourth. Morton drove the ball over the heads of centerfielder Kyle Harris and rightfielder Alex Kotheimer. The two converged as they sprinted toward the rightfield bank and the fence at the top of the bank and collided, leaving both players sprawled motionless on the outfield grass. Kotheimer was knocked out on the play.
When the game resumed, the Comets (19-9, 14-2 in conference) continued on to the victory as they held off Mesa's ninth-inning rally The Olympians sent nine batters to the plate in the inning before Gary Cornish, Palomar's fifth pitcher of the afternoon, struck out Michaelangelo Gapaso, who had replaced Kotheimer in right field, and Zachary Taylor for the 26th and 27th outs to end the game.
Rusty Huber (1-0), the second Palomar pitcher of the day, threw two innings of one-hit, shutout ball to pick up the victory.
Offensively, the Comets made the most of eight hits, thanks to Morton's grand-slam. Eric Sapp, who doubled and singled, and Alec Salcedo, who singled twice, both went 2-for-4. Mortion, Dillan Smith, Chris Stratton and Francis Christy had the other Palomar hits.
The Comets, trailing 1-0 after a half-inning, tied the game in the bottom of the first when Matt Matlock, who had walked and advanced on a stolen base, alertly raced home from second on an infield throwing error. They took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second on Sapp's two-out double into the rightfield corner, another infield error and Smith's RBI single to right.
Smith was on base four times, also including a walk, a hit-by-pitch and another infield error.
Mesa had 15 hits.
The Comets and Olympians will play the second game of the three-game series on Thursday aftrnoon at Mesa, then will return to Myers Field to close out the series on Saturday at noon.| 2014 STATISTICS
PC ranked 5th in SoCal, 10th on Pacific Coast
SAN MARCOS (4-08-2014) -- Palomar's baseball team moved up in two major community polls were released on Tuesday.
The Comets are ranked fifth in Southern California in the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association poll.
And they're 10th in the American Baseball Coaches Association's Pacific Associations Division rankings, for community colleges in California, Oregon and Washington.
Coach Buck Taylor's Comets trail No.1 Oxnard, No. 2 Saddleback, No. 3 Orange Coast and No. 4 East Los Angeles in the Southern California poll.
No. 6 Santa Barbara City College, No. 7 San Bernardino Valley, No. 8 Los Angeles Mission, No. 9 Santa Ana and No. 10 Southwestern round out the Top 10.
Two teams ranked ahead of Palomar in the SoCal poll lost on Tuesday. Top-ranked Oxnard lost to Allan Hancock 9-4. Saddleback was defeated by Orange Coast 13-3.
In the ABCA Pacific Associations rankings, the Comets trail No. 1 Oxnard, No. 2 San Joaquin Delta of Stockton, No. 3 Emonds Community College of Lynwood, WA, No. 4 Saddleback, No. 5 Sacramento City College, No. 6 Orange Coast, No. 7 Tacoma (WA) Community College, No. 8 East L.A. and No. 9 Chabot College of Hayward.
Vincent starts 2014 with 2 scoreless outings
SAN DIEGO (3-30-2014) (4-01-2014) --Nick Vincent, who compiled a 20-6 career win-loss record pitching for Palomar, continues to be one of the most consistent relievers in Major League baseball.
Vincent began his third season as an MLB pitcher with back-to-back scoreless relief appearances for the San Diego Padres.
On Sunday, Vincent came in to pitch two-thirds of an inning of scoreless, hitless baseball as he helped preserve the Padres'3-1 opening-night victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers before a crowd of 45,567 at Petco Park and a national TV audience on ESPN.
He threw another two-thirds of an inning of scoreless ball on Tuesday afternoon in a game the Dodgers went onto win 3-2 in front of 35,033. Vincent entered Tuesday's game with one out in the seventh and pitched the Padres out of trouble.
In two-plus Major League seasons, Vincent owns a 1.95 ERA, striking out 78 batters and walking 19 in 74 innings. He's appeared in 74 Major League games, compiling an 8-3 win-loss record with one save out of the Padres bullpen.
Berberet 4th pitcher to commit, to Long Beach
SAN MARCOS (4-04-2014) -- Vaughn Berberet, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound left-hander who came to Palomar from Fallbrook High School, has committed to Long Beach State, the alma mater of former Comet and current San Diego Padres Major League pitcher Nick Vincent.
Berberet is sitting out the 2014 Palomar season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 2013, he went 6-1 for the Comets with a 1.22 earned run average.
Three other Palomar pitchers have signed with Division I schools, right-handers Zach Wilkins and Taylor Miller with the University of Nevada and Gary Cornish, another right-hander, with the University of San Diego where former Comet pitching coach Tyler Kincaid is the pitching coach.
Wilkins, an all-state and All-American selection as a freshman in 2013 who came to Palomar from Scripps Ranch High School, is the Comets' Thursday starter.
Miller, a Poway High School product and another returnee from Palomar's 2013 team, pitches for the Comets out of the bullpen.
Cornish, a transfer from Saint Mary's College of California, is the Comets' closer.
PICTURED ABOVE:Vaughn Berberet
TOP PHOTO:Palomar's Dillan Smith scores the first run of Saturday's game on Anthony Fernandez' sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Zach Bonneau rounds third base to score Palomar's last run on Dillan Smith's eighth-inning single. Bonneau singled with two outs and went to second on a wild pitch. BELOW: Gary Cornish delivers a pitch to City College's Zackary Foster. Cornish struck out Foster looking for the final out of the game. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
Esquibel (5-1, 0.24 ERA), 2 relievers blank City
SAN MARCOS (3-28-14) --In Palomar's final baseball game before a one-week break in the schedule, Emilio Esquibel and two relievers shut out visiting San Diego City College 7-0 on Saturday at Myers Field to go 18-9 on the season, 13-2 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference.
Esquibel threw the first six innings, working his way out of a bases-loaded, two-out situation in the top of the third, as he upped his record to 5-1 with an ERA of 0.24 for 37 2/3 innings pitched. Anthony Balderas threw a 1-2-3 seventh inning, retiring the Knights on two strikeouts and a groundball out. Gary Cornish blanked the visitors over the final two innings.
The Comets banged out 13 hits, led by Francis Christy (2-for-3, solo inside-the-park home run to rightfield in the third inning, one hit by pitch), Dillan Smith (2-for-3, sacrifice fly, walk, stolen base, two RBIs), Matt Matlock (2-for-5, RBI) and Chris Stratton (2-for-4, two steals).
Palomar scored one run in each of the first four innings and never looked back as the first-place Comets ran their current winning streak to five games and won for the 14th time in their last 16 games.
Dennis Morton contributed an RBI single. Anthony Fernandez and Eric Sapp drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and fielder's choice, respectively. Zach Bonneau added a pinch-hit single.
Palomar swept the teams' season series 4-0.
The Comets will return to action a week from Tuesday, on April 8, when they host San Diego Mesa at 2 p.m. at Myers Field to open a three-game series.
Wilkins (6-1) pitches 7 shutout innings in win
SAN DIEGO (3-27-2014) -- Zach Wilkins remained on a roll Thursday at Morley Field. So did the rest of his Palomar baseball team.
Wilkins (6-1) pitched seven shutout innings and scattered four hits as the Comets rocked host San Diego City College 10-2 in a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference game for their fifth straight win and 13th victory in their last 15 games.
The sophomore right-hander out of San Diego's Scripps Ranch High School, a returning all-conference, all-state and All-American selection, lowered his ERA to 1.50 over 54 innings (1.67 for 32 1/3 innings in conference games).
Adam Blackwell and Dennis Morton slugged home runs in support of Wilkins. Blackwell's solo shot in the second inning gave Palomar, which was leading 1-0 at the time, an early two-run lead. Morton's two-run HR in the fifth upped the Comets' margin to 7-0. Both shots cleared the leftfield fence.
Morton (2-for-4, four RBIs), Francis Christy (2-for-4 with a double and a triple) and Alec Salcedo (2-for-4 with three RBIs) all had multiple hits to pace Palomar's 13-hit attack off four City College pitchers.
Dillan Smith, Matt Matlock, Anthony Fernandez, Chris Stratton, Nolan Barraza and Nathan Mann added one hit each.
Rusty Huber, the third of four Palomar pitchers, came in to strike out the Knights' Anthony Lee to get the Comets out of an eighth-inning jam. Troy Forester then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Palomar's conference leaders advanced to 17-9 on the season, 12-2 in conference. The two teams will close out their season series on Saturday at Myers Field, starting at noon. The Comets will be attempting to sweep the series 4-0.
PICTURED ABOVE:Zach Wilkins (left), Adam Blackwell (right)
TOP PHOTO:Jake Barnett follows through on a pitch against San Diego City College. Barnett upped his conference win-loss record to 5-0. Along the way he lowered his earned run average to 2.87 for the season over 47 innings and to 1.48 in conference for 30 1/3 innings. DIRECTLY ABOVE AND SEQUENCE BELOW: Anthony Balderas appears to touch the plate in the second inning as he slides into home following a squeeze bunt by Chris Stratton. Balderas was called out. -- Photos by Hugh Cox.
Comets win again, move to 11-2 in conference
SAN MARCOS (3-25-2014) --Palomar supported winning pitcher Jake Barnett with a 10-hit attack that included a home run by Anthony Balderas and a 3-for-4 performance by Dennis Morton as the Comets turned back San Diego City College 6-1 Tuesday at Myers Field.
The Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball leaders upped their record to 16-9, 11-2 in conference as they ran their current winning streak to four games and won for the 12th time in their last 14 games.
Barnett (5-0 in conference) halted the Knights with one run on six hits over the first 6 1/3 innings, striking out six. Barnett left the game with a 5-1 lead, and Cody Ells followed him to the mound with one out in the seventh and runners at first and second, getting the Comets out of the inning with a strikeout and a flyball out. Ells, Josh Bravin and Rusty Huber combined to throw 2 2/3 innings of perfect relief ball.
Palomar took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first after a walk to Chris Stratton and back-to-back singles by Dillan Smith and Morton, who laid down a picture perfect drag bunt. A double-play ground ball scored the first run.The second run came on an error by City College's shortstop.
The Knights were still hanging around in the fourth inning, when the Comets added a run on Aaron Blackwell's single, a walk to Alec Salcedo and Smith's opposite-field single to left which drove in Blackwell and made it 3-1.
Palomar made it 5-1 in the fifth on a walk to Matt Matlock and Balderas' two-run home run over the leftfield fence.
The Comets then tacked on their final run in the bottom of the eighth when Stratton walked, stole second and came home on Morton's two-out single to center.
Morton went 3-for-4 with a triple, an intentional walk, and his RBI single. Balderas went 2-for-3 with the home run and two RBIs. Smith was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Blackwell, Salcedo and Frances Christy each added a single.
Palomar and City College will play again on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Morley Field in Balboa Park, then will return to Myers Field to play the series finale at noon on Saturday. The Comets will have next week off with three bye dates before resuming PCAC action with a three-game series with San Diego Mesa the following week.
Comets' Smith is PCAC Athlete of the Week
SAN DIEGO (3-25-2014) -- Palomar's Dillan Smith has been selected as Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Men's Athlete of the Week for all sports for the week of March 17-23.
Smith, coach Buck Taylor's sophomore centerfielder from Temescal Canyon High School in Lake Elsinore, had a 7-for-10 week while playing spectacular defense as the first-place Comets swept three games from Mt. San Jacinto, which entered the week alone in second place.
Smith went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt, a stolen base, two runs scored, an over-the-shoulder catch and a diving catch as Palomar won the series opeer 5-1. He went 2-for-3 with a triple, doule, two sac bunts, a walk and an RBI in a 13-4 win in game 2. In game 3, he was 2-for-4, walked and stole a base in a 4-0 win.
ABOVE: Emilio Esquibel fires to the plate during Comets' 4-0 victory over Mt. San Jacinto on Saturday. He pitched eight shutout innings. -- Photo by Stephen Davis. BELOW LEFT: Gary Cornish, who struck out the side in the ninth inning. BELOW RIGHT: Aaron Blackwell, who had two hits and drove in a pair of runs
1st-place PC's Esquibel, Cornish hurl shutout
SAN MARCOS (3-22-2014) -- Three-time defending champion Palomar finished the first half of Pacific Coast Athletic Conference play in first place two games ahead of the pack on Saturday at Myers Field with a 4-0 victory over Mt. San Jacinto.
Winning pitcher Emilio Esquibel (4-1, 0.28 ERA) and closer Gary Cornish, who came on to throw the ninth inning in a non-save situation, combined on the shutout as the Comets swept their season series from the Eagles four games to zero.
Esquibel (4-1, 0.28 ERA for 31 2/3 innings) scattered five hits over the first 3 1/3 innings, then retired 13 batters in a row before Mt. San Jac's Johnny Valdez singled to left field with one out in the eighth.
Esquibel got out of the inning with two straight groundball outs, and Cornish then struck out Manny Mendoza, Johnny Walls-Jaime and Zach Fyfe in a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.
Palomar took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Aaron Blackwell doubled to right-centerfield to drive in Nate Mann, who had reached base on a walk, and Alec Salcedo, who was aboard on a single.
The Comets tacked on two runs in the seventh. Dillan Smith and Dennis Morton got the inning rolling with back-to-back singles, and Francis Christy walked to load the bases with none out. Anthony Fernandez drove in Smith with a sacrifice fly. Matt Matlock drew a walk to load the bases and, with two outs, Salcedo singled through the right side to score Morton.
Palomar mounted a 10-hit attack, led by Blackwell (2-for-4, double, two RBIs), Salcedo (2-for-4, RBI), Anthony Fernandez (2-for-3, walk, sacrifice fly) and Smith (2-for-4, walk, stolen base). Christy doubled and Dennis Morton singled for the other hits.
Mt. San Jacinto's Kyle Mead robbed Salcedo of a third hit by making a diving catch of his sinking liner to center in the sixth.
With the win, Palomar advanced to 15-9 on the season, 10-2 in conference. The Comets, who have won three straight games and 12 of their last 14, will begin a three-game series against San Diego City College with a 2 p.m. match-up at Myers Field on Tuesday. The two teams will play again on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Morley Field in San Diego, then will conclude the series at noon Saturday back at Myers Field.
Grossmont (8-4) is two games behind the Comets in second place entering the week, followed by Southwestern, which had the bye week, and San Diego Mesa (both 5-4). Mt. San Jacinto, which started the week alone in second place, has slipped to 6-6 in conference and has dropped down to fifth place.
Wilkins, Stratton come up big in PC victory
SAN JACINTO (3-20-2014) -- Zach Wilkins ran his win-loss record to 5-1 by pitching seven innings of shutout baseball and Chris Stratton paced a 17-hit attack by going 3-for-6 on Thursday as Palomar pounded host Mt. San Jacinto 13-4 in a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference game.
The Comets (14-9, 9-2) won for the 10th time in their last 12 games and continue to lead the conference by two games. The new second-place team is Grossmont, which advanced to 7-4 by beating San Diego City College 10-4.
Wilkins lowered his earned run average to 1.72 for 47 innings (season) and 2.13 for 25 1/3 innings (conference). Meanwhile, Palomar's batters put on their big-boy hitting pants and pretty much had their way with nine Mt. San Jacinto pitchers in staking him to leads of 2-0 (after one inning), 3-0 (after two), 4-0 (after four) and 8-0 when he came out of the game after the seventh inning.
Stratton, in his second game back from an injury, drove in a run from his leadoff spot in the order and scored four of Palomar's 13 runs. Dillan Smith (2-for-3, triple, double, two sacrifices, walk, RBI), Francis Christy (2-for-4, double, hit by pitch, walk, three RBIs), Anthony Fernandez (2-for-3, walk, two RBIs), Aaron Blackwell (2-for-3, hit by pitch, walk) and Matt Matlock (2-for-5, RBI) joined Stratton with multiple hits.
Blackwell also scored three runs.
Palomar can sweep the week's series with the Eagles three games to none and win the teams' season series 4-0 by winning again Saturday at Myers Field. Game time will be noon with Emilio Esquibel (3-1, 0.38 ERA) starting on the mound for the Comets.
PICTURED ABOVE:Zach Wilkins (left), Chris Stratton (right)
TOP PHOTO:Palomar shortstop Dennis Morton turns a doubleplay in the top of the ninth inning as Mt. San Jacinto's Alex Rivera slides. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Matt Matlock gets down one of his two successful sacrifice bunts. BELOW LEFT: Dylan Smith tracks down a long fly by Dom des Vigne in the fourth inning as he approaches the bank in center. His over-the-shoulder catch ended the top of the fourth. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Jake Barnett, who ran his conference pitching record to 4-0
Barnett, Comets back in front by two games
SAN MARCOS (3-18-2014) -- Freshman left-hander Jake Barnett benefited from Dillan Smith's, Dennis Morton's and Frances Christy's offensive outputs, from more defensive wizardry in centerfield by Smith and from strong relief pitching by Cody Ells and Gary Cornish on Tuesday.
And the Palmar baseball team benefited from another stellar starting performance by Barnett as the Comets turned back visiting Mt. San Jacinto 5-1 at Myers field.
The Eagles came into the game with an opportunity to move into a tie for first place with Palomar with a victory.
But Barnett, who got four first-pitch outs to lead off innings, made sure that was not going to happen. He threw seven strong innings, scattering five hits and allowing a lone unearned run as he advanced to 4-2 on the season and, more importantly, 4-0 in conference.
He was followed to the mound by the 6-foot-6 Ells, who struck out the side in the Mt. San Jacinto eighth, and Cornish, who came into the game with two runners aboard in the ninth, after a bad-hop single and walk. Cornish got the first batter he faced, Manny Mendoza, to hit into a double play from Morton at shortstop to first baseman Eric Sapp. Then he struck out Kyle Mead looking for the final out as he recorded his third save.
The Comets are now 8-2 in conference and continue to lead the PCAC by themselves. The Eagles find themselves 6-4 in the conference and have dropped into a virtual three-way tie for second place with Grossmont (also 6-4), a 3-2 winner over Imperial Valley on Tuesday, and idle Southwestern (5-4).
Palomar snapped a two-game losing streak, which came on the heels of an eight-game win streak, and is 13-9 overall.
Smith went 3-for-3, got down a sacrifice bunt that Mt. San Jacinto turned into a two-base error, stole a base and scored two runs as the Comets got functional use from an eight-hit attack. Meanwhile, the Eagles contributed to their own demise by making five errors, all in the first three innings.
While Mt. San Jacinto was kicking the ball and throwing it around, Smith was at the opposite end of the spectrum defensively. His diving catch in center robbed Mead of a run-scoring hit in the sixth inning and he made two other notable catches, one an over-the-shoulder grab for the final out in the Mt. San Jacinto fourth.
Morton drove in three runs with a two-run single in the bottom of the first and an RBI single in the fifth. Christy drove in the other two Palomar runs with a third-inning single down the rightfield line and a sacrifice fly, also in the fifth.
Chris Stratton, returning from a fractured finger, set the tone for the Comets offensively when he led off the bottom of the first by catching the Eagles napping with a bunt single. Alec Saldedo also contributed a pinch-hit single.
The two teams play again on Thursday at 2 p.m. in San Jacinto and wrap up the series on Saturday at noon at Myers Field.
WCC picks ex-Comet Cheek as Player of Week
SAN BRUNO (3-17-2014) -- The West Coast Conference has named 2012 Palomar All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference selection Tommy Cheek of Loyola Marymount as its baseball Player of the Week. Cheek batted .500 for the week.
Coming off a .600 streak the previous week, when he scored six runs and drove in eight, the senior first baseman went 9-for-18 over the course of four games during the week. That raised his batting average to .382 for the season, second-best on the Lions' roster, with six doubles, a triple, a home run and 20 RBIs.
He's hitting an even .500 to begin the WCC season.
Cheek had multiple hits in all four games, a 6-3 loss to USC in Los Angeles and back-to-back-to-back 5-2,10-8 and 8-7 WCC victories over Portland at home.
Cheek's biggest game came on Saturday night, as he finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, running his consecutive-game hitting streak to five games. He's batting .565 with six runs scored and six RBIs over that span. Cheek has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, with multiple hits in seven of those games.
Earlier in the season, the Cathedral Catholic High School product drove in the first run of the game as Loyola Marymount led wire-to-wire in a 6-1 victory over defending national champion UCLA on March 4.
ABOVE:Southwestern's Roberto Lucero dives back to the bag as Palomar first baseman Eric Sapp watches the ball into his glove. -- Photo by Russ Scoffin, Southwestern College. BELOW: Catcher Zach Bonneau, who singled and walked for the Comets
PC loses momentum going into MSJ series
CHULA VISTA (3-15-2014) -- After taking an eight-game win streak into Thursday's home game with Southwestern, Palomar has dropped its last two baseball decisions, both to the Jaguars and the most recent one by a 4-2 score on Saturday at The Juncture.
The Comets still are alone in first place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, but the momentum they were enjoying has disappeared as they prepare to begin a three-game series with Mt. San Jacinto on Tuesday.
Palomar is 12-9 on the season and 7-2 in the PCAC. Mt. San Jacinto is alone in second in its first season in the conference after sweeping three games from San Diego City College.
Southwestern (15-6 overall) got six-hit shutout pitching from Kevin Ginkel (4-0) as the Jaguars split their four-game season series with the Comets at two games apiece. Deandre Simpson worked the last two innings.
Starter Emilio Esquibel (3-1) pitched 3 1/3 innings for the Comets, allowing his first earned run of the year and being tagged with the loss. Esquibel has an ERA of 0.38 for 23 2/3 innings. Gary Cornish came on to strike out four batters over the final 4 2/3 innings.
Palomar stranded nine runners, seven of them in scoring position, as the Comets were unable to come up with key hits.
Anthony Fernandez (2-for-4 with an RBI), Dillan Smtih (2-for-5 with an RBI) and Francis Christy (2-for-3 with a double) had multiple hits for the Comets. Matt Matlock, Zach Bonneau and Alec Salcedo also hit safely.
The Comets and Mt. San Jacinto will play Tuesday at Myers Field at 2 p.m., Thursday at San Jacinto at 2 p.m. and Saturday back at Myers Field at noon.
ABOVE: Palomar's Dillan Smith ducks an inside pitch in Thursday's game. BELOW: Matt Matlock doubles to left field in the third inning. The Comets left him stranded. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
Palomar's win streak snapped at 8 games
SAN MARCOS (3-13-2014) -- Visiting Southwestern broke open a one-run game by scoring four runs in the top of the ninth inning on Thursday at Myers Field and unceremoniously ended Palomar's baseball win streak at eight games with a 7-2 victory.
It was the Comets' most one-sided loss of the season and they saw their lead in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference race shrink to two games over second-place Mt. San Jacinto. The Eagles rallied for a 7-6 win over San Diego City College.
Matt Matlock went 2-for-4 for Palomar (12-8, 7-1) with two doubles and a walk, but for the most part Southwestern pitchers Dylan McDonald and Deandre Simpson had their way with the Comets as they combined on a seven-hitter.
For Palomar, Zach Wilkins (4-1) pitched the first 7 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs, and left the game with the Comets trailing 3-1.
Palomar cut Southwestern's lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Matlock doubled to lead off the inning, Dennis Morton followed with a single, and Matlock scored on a double-play ground ball. Anthony Balderas singled later in the inning, followed by a walk to Francis Christy that put runners on first and second, but the Comets managed only one run on three hits.
That was the story for Palomar all afternoon as 13 Comets reached base but only two of them scored runs. They stranded five runners in scoring position and another was thrown out at the plate.
With the Jaguars leading 3-0, Smith drove in the Comets' first run in the fifth inning. He singled through the left side with one out to drive in Aaron Blackwell, who had reached base as a hit batter. Blackwell stole second and went to third when the catcher threw wildly to second.
Anthony Fernandez, Anthony Balderas and Christy also hit safely for the Comets.
Southwestern is 14-6 overall and evened its conference record at 4-4. The Jaguars are tied for third place with Grossmont, which defeated Imperial Valley 4-3. Those two teams trail Mt. San Jacinto (5-3) by one game and are three games in back of the Comets.
Palomar and Southwestern will play for the final time during the regular season on Saturday at noon at Southwestern. The Comets will be trying to win the season series between the two teams three games to one.
PICTURED ABOVE:Matt Matlock
ABOVE:Palomar centerfielder Dillan Smith makes a diving catch of a ball hit by Southwestern's Roman Garcia for the third out in the bottom of the first inning on Tuesday. BELOW LEFT: Rightfielder Anthony Fernandez dives to catch a ball hit by the Jaguars' Frank Mello in the seventh inning. Fernandez made two diving catches, Smith one. -- Photos by Russ Scoffin, Southwestern College. BELOW RIGHT: Winner Jake Barnett, who pitched seven innings of four-hit ball and allowed one earned run
Barnett, Hunt, defense lift PC to 8th win in row
CHULA VISTA (3-11-2014) -- Outstanding starting pitching by Jake Barnett, another big day at the plate by Jared Hunt and three spectacular diving catches by outfielders Anthony Fernandez and Dillan Smith ignited Palomar to its eighth straight baseball win on Tuesday.
The Comets led 9-2 after eight innings and went on to beat Pacific Coast Athletic Conference rival Southwestern 9-5 at The Junction. Gary Cornish came on in the ninth inning to end a rally by the Jaguars and record his second save in the last three days.
Coach Buck Taylor's squad advanced to 12-7 overall and 7-0 in the PCAC.
Palomar has won 10 of its last 11 games and continues to lead the pack by three games in the PCAC race. Mt. San Jacinto (4-3) is now alone in second place after beating San Diego City College on Tuesday 7-3. Southwestern and City College dropped out of what had been a three-way tie for second and into what is now a three-way tie for third place with Grossmont, a 9-0 winner over Imperial Valley.
Barnett, a left-hander from Orange Glen High School who is the only freshman in Taylor's starting rotation, handcuffed the Jaguars with four-hit pitching over the first seven innings. He surrendered an unearned run in the first inning, then shut out Southwestern on two hits until the seventh.
That's when the Jaguars tagged on an unearned run, before Fernandez made the second of two diving catches in right field to end the inning.
Cody Ells pitched a scoreless eighth inning before Southwestern greeted the third PC pitcher of the afternoon with three runs in the ninth. Enter Cornish, who came in with the bases loaded and the tying run on deck and got the Comets out of the inning to pick up the save.
Smith made a diving catch to end the bottom of the first, and Fernandez had another diving catch for the second out in the sixth.
Hunt, who homered to beat Grossmont 1-0 on Saturday, went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a sacrifice bunt as the Comets pounded out 16 hits off four Southwestern pitchers.
Smith went 3-for-5 with a walk. Dennis Morton (2-for-5, double, RBI, sacrifice bunt), Matt Matlock (2-for-5, double, walk), Hernandez (2-for-4, intentional walk) and Francis Christy (2-for-4, walk) also had multiple hits for Palomar. Adam Blackwell and Alec Salcedo each added a single.
The two teams will play again on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Palomar as 80-yeqr-old Jerry Bartow, who has been Southwestern's coach for 39 years after an outstanding prep career at Hoover High School, makes his final regular-season appearance at Myers Field prior to his retirement at the end of the season.
Bartow is either the second winningest community college coach of all time in the nation behind recently-retired Santa Ana coach Don Sneddon -- or Bartow is actually the winningest community college coach of all time. Records for five early years for Bartow at Southwestern have been lost.
The Comets and Jaguars will close out the series on Saturday, back at Southwestern, at noon.
Esquibel is conference Athlete of the Week
SAN DIEGO (3-07-2014) -- Palomar baseball player Emilio Esquibel has been named Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Men's Athlete of the Week.
Esquibel, a sophomore right-handed pitcher from Vista High School, threw eight shutout innings, scattering six hits, to win a pitchers' duel form Grossmont's Randy Wynne as the Comets beat the Griffins 1-0 on Saturday at Myers Field.
Esquibel (3-0) has allowed only one run all season. He owns an ERA of 0.00 for 29 1/3 innings as the Comets have won seven games in a row and lead the conference by gthree games with a 6-0 record.
He's the youngest of three brothers who have pitched for the Comets. Oldest brother Andres Esquibel went on to pitch for the University of Kansas, then in the Seattle Mariners' organization. Julian Esquibel pitched Faulkner University to the 2013 NAIA World Series championship.
ABOVE:Emilio Esquibel delivers a pitch in Palomar's 1-0 victory over Grossmont on Saturday. Esquibel scattered six hits over the first eighth innings as he advanced to 3-0 with an ERA of 0.00 over 20 2/3 innings. -- Photo by Hugh Gerhardt. BELOW: Jared Hunt rounds the bases to score the game's only run on his eighth-inning homer to right. -- Photo by Stephen M. Davis, The Telescope
Hunt's HR gives PC 7th win in row, 3-game lead
SAN MARCOS (3-07-2014) -- Jared Hunt's home run over the right field fence to lead-off the bottom of the eighth inning on Saturday at Myers Field broke a scoreless tie and gave Palomar its seventh straight baseball victory, 1-0 over Grossmont.
Sophomore right-hander Emio Esquibel threw six-hit shutout ball over the first eight innings and Michael Jordan came on to pitch the ninth, recording his fourth save, as the first-place Comets upped their record to 11-7, 6-0 in conference.
The win, coupled with Mt. San Jacinto's 8-6 upset of Southwestern and San Diego City College's 6-4 win over San Diego Mesa, enabled the Comets to stretch their lead in the Pacific Athletic Conference race to three games over the Eagles, Jaguars and Knights who are all 3-3.
Esquibel and Grossmont pitcher Randy Wynne were locked up in a 0-0 pitchers' duel when Hunt, a freshman second baseman from Granite Hills High School in the Griffins' district, stepped up to the plate to lead off the Palomar eighth.
Wynne had a perfect game going through 5 1/3 innings before Zach Bonneau, the Comets' catcher, worked him for a walk.
Dennis Morton broke up the no-hitter with a fly-ball double to right with one out in the seventh. Wynne then hit Anthony Fernandez with a pitch, and Anthony Baleras advanced the runners to second and third with a groundball out. Grossmont right fielder Romello Carbuccia robbed Francis Christy of an extra-base hit when he raced up the bank to catch the ball at the fence for the third out.
But that only preserved Wynne's shutout temporarily.
In the bottom of the eighth, Bonneau followed Hunt's homer with a single to left field for Palomar's third hit of the game. But Wynne escaped further damage when he recorded a strikeout and the Comets' Dillan Smith smoked a linedrive at second baseman Nico Maida who threw to first to double off Bonneau.
Esquibel upped his win-loss record to 3-0. He's allowed only one run in 20 1/3 innings and has an ERA of 0.00.
The Comets will open a three-game series with Southwestern on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Southwestern. The two teams will play the second game on Thursday at the same time at Myers Field, and will play the third game next Saturday at noon back on the Jaguars' field.| 2014 STATISTICS
Wilkins, Cornish team to beat Mesa on 5-hitter
SAN DIEGO (3-07-2014) -- Zach Wilkins and Gary Cornish combined to throw a five-hitter on Friday as Palomar ran its baseball winning streak to six games, beating host San Diego Mesa 4-1.
Wilkins (4-0) started and shut down the Olympians on three hits and a lone unearned run over the first 5 2/3 innings. Cornish dominated over the last 3 1/3 innings, pitching two-hit, shutout ball to record the save.
Matt Matlock went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double, two runs scored, two walks and a stolen base. Jared Hunt also had a multiple-hit performance, going 2-for-4.
Palomar took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Dillan Smith and Matlock led off the inning with back-to-back singles. After a wild pitch, Anthony Fernandez delivered a two-run single to center with one out.
Mesa pulled to within 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth when Zachary Taylor singled up the middle, went to second on a passed ball, stole third and, with one out, scored on Mauio Oliverra's sacrifice fly to Smith in center.
After Wilkins walked Conner Wilson on a full count, coach Buck Taylor went to the bullpen for Cornish, who struck out Kyle Harris looking at a full-count curveball for the final out of the inning.
Francis Christy doubled and Anthony Balderas and Aaron Blackwell singled for the Comets' other hits.
Palomar (10-7, 5-0 to lead the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference) will play its first home game since Feb. 22 on Saturday when the Comets host Grossmont at noon. Next week, the Comets play a three-game series against Southwestern, facing the Jaguars on the road on Tuesday, at Myers Field on Thursday then back at Southwestern on Saturday.
PICTURED ABOVE:Zach Wilkins (left), Gary Cornish (right)
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)
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.
PICTURED ABOVE: Set-up man Cody Ells, who threw three shutout innings with four strikeouts and no walks. -- Photo by Hugh Cox
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 Dillan 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.
Dillan 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.
Dillan 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:Dillan 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 Dillan 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); Dillan 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)