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2015 Season ...
ABOVE: Palomar catcher Francis Christy tags out Imperial Valley's Hector Mellos trying to score from second base on a single for the third out in the top of the first inning at Myers Field on Thursday. Left fielder Jordan Gardner threw Mellos out at the plate. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Gardner, who also went 2-for-3 with an RBI double, a single, a squeeze bunt that drove in two runs, two runs scored and a stolen base. BELOW RIGHT: Joey Cooper, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI and three steals.
Palomar starts slow, finishes with blowout win
SAN MARCOS (3-26-2015) -- Palomar's Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball leaders started slowly on Thursday, then exploded for eight runs in the sixth inning and four more runs in the seventh to smack visiting Imperial Valley 15-3.
Along the way, the Comets ran their record to 19-4 on the season, 10-1 in conference.
IVC banged out five hits in the first inning to lead 2-0 and was tied with the nationally 12th-ranked Comets at 3-3 through the first 5 1/2 innings at Myers Field. Then the roof fell in on the Arabs in the bottom of the sixth and Graham Gomez, the second of four Palomar pitchers, came on with two outs in the top of the third and pitched 3 1/3 shutout innings, allowing one hit, as he ran his win-loss record to 3-1.
Left fielder Jordan Gardner, first baseman Anthony Balderas and rightfielder Grant Chase supplied a huge chunk of the Comets' offensive production on the day, going a combined 6-for-10, scoring five runs and driving in 10 runs between them.
Gardner, who got the Comets' out of what had turned into a nightmare first inning by gunning down the Arabs' Hector Mello trying to score from second base on a single for the third out, went 2-for-3, doubled to drive in a run, singled, drove in two runs on a squeeze bunt in the eight-run sixth, scored two runs and stole a base.
Balderas went 2-for-3 with a run-scoring double, a two-run single and a sacrifice fly. He drove in four runs and scored two runs.
Grant was 2-for-4, and had two hits and three RBIs in the big sixth inning. He ignited the inning a double to right that drove in a run, then added a two-run single later in the inning.
Then there was designated hitter Joey Cooper, who was 2-for-3, drove in a run and stole three bases.
Third baseman Niko Holm also had a multi-hit day, singling twice and driving in a run.
Alec Salcedo, Dylan Breault and pinch-hitters Brian Boomhower and Brayden McCoy also had singles.
Adam Estermyer and Matt Flake, the third and fourth pitchers of the afternoon, closed out the Arabs by pitching hitless, scoreless ball in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
Palomar had to overcome a series of big defensive plays by IVC's second baseman Fernando Sanchez. Jared Espinoza and Javier Vasquez each had two hits for the Arabs.
The two teams will play again on Friday at noon on Myers Field.
Palomar moves to No. 12 in national poll
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (3-24-2015) -- Palomar has moved to No. 12 in the national community college baseball rankings released by Perfect Game USA of Cedar Rapids.
Only No. 1-ranked San Joaquin Delta of Stockton, which is 20-0, is ranked above the Comets of coach Buck Taylor (left) among California teams in the poll.
Rounding out the Top 10 behind Delta are No. 2 St. John's River (Florida), No. 3 Cipola (Florida), No. 4 Cowley County (Kansas), No. 5 Iowa Western, No. 6 Weatherford (Texas), No. 7 Walters State (Texas), No. 8 Gulf Coast State (Florida), No. 9 San Jacinto (Texas) and No. 10 Florence-Darlington (South Carolina).
Other California teams in the Top 25 are No. 14 Fresno City College, and No. 23 Oxnard. Fullerton, which has been ranked ahead of the Comets, has dropped out after dropping two straight games to conclude last week.
Turski's six 2-hit shutout innings lead way
IMPERIAL (3-24-2015) -- After climbing from No. 23 to No. 12 in the nation in the morning, Palomar returned to Pacific Coast Athletic Conference action in the afternoon Tuesday, defeating Imperial Valley 7-1 behind Taylor Turski's strong pitching performance.
Turski (left) pitched six strong shutout innings, allowing only two hits and striking out six, and Francis Christy (right) hammered his seventh home run of the season as the first-place Comets moved to 18-4 on the season and 9-1 in the conference.
Palomar remains three games in front of second-place Southwestern in the loss column in the PCAC race. The Jaguars defeated Grossmont on Tuesday 5-2.
Tyler Russell, normally one of the Comets' starters, came on for Turski to begin the seventh and worked the final three innings to record his first save. The Arabs finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the ninth on Raul Carrillo's RBI single.
Niko Holm (3-for-4, RBI), Christy (2-for-5, three RBIs), Sam Casinelli (2-for-3 off the bench) and Alec Salcedo (2-for-5) had multiple-hit games to supply all nine of Palomar's hits off three Imperial Valley pitchers. Dylan Breault added a sacrifice fly, a walk and a steal.
And Casinelli, playing second base, supplied the defensive play of the game in the bottom of the ninth when he dove to his right to spear a hard-hit shot off the bat of IVC's Jared Espinoza and jumped up to throw to first baseman Derek Black to get Espinoza. Brault had a series of big plays at short, with Black stretching to pick three throws from deep in the hole.
Palomar jumped in front 2-0 in the top of the first on Salcedo's single to lead off the game, Jordan Gardner's sacrifice bunt and Christy's long home run on a ball he pulled over the rightfield fence.
The Comets made it 3-0 in the third inning on Holm's RBI single and broke the game open with four runs in the top of the fifth.
Sankey hammers Va Tech with 4 hits, 2 HRs
BLACKSBURG, Virginia (3-17-2015) -- Becker Sankey, a catcher / designated hitter on Palomar's 2013 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship team that fell one run shy of advancing to the state community college Final Four, unloaded on Virginia Tech on Tuesday.
hammered host Virginia Tech with two home runs including a grand-slam in the top of the ninth inning, a double, a single, a career-high five RBIs and three runs scored as the Flames won on the road 12-5.
The victory was Liberty's first at English Field in Blacksburg since 2008 and also was Liberty's seventh win in a row. Virginia Tech was coming off a weekend series sweep over Virginia, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Sankey is a Rancho Bernardo High School product.
PHOTO: Becker Sankey gets high-fives after his grand-slam home run vs. Virginia Tech. -- Courtesy photo
PC pitcher Tyler Russell honored by conference
SAN DIEGO (3-16-2015) -- Palomar baseball pitcher Tyler Russell has been selected as Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Men's Athlete of the Week for all sports for the week of March 9-15.
Russell, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound right-hander from Vista Murrieta High School who pitched one season for Eastern Michigan University, threw nine shutout innings during the week.
Russell threw the first 7 1/3 innings of a combined shutout with two other Palomar pitchers on Tuesday as the Comets defeated San Diego City College 1-0. On Saturday, he came in relief to pitch 1 2/3 scoreless innings, getting Palomar out of a jam as the Comets beat the Knights 10-6.
Russell is 4-0 on the season with a 1.34 earned run average. He has 22 strikeouts and only two walks for 33 2/3 innings pitched for the first-place Comets, who are 17-4 overall and 8-1 in conference.
Salcedo goes 4-for-6; Comets win a slugfest
SAN DIEGO (3-14-2015) -- Alex Salcedo (left) went 4-for-6 with a double, a triple, four RBIs and two runs scored on Saturday as Palomar held off San Diego City College 10-6 in a slugfest at Morley Field. The two teams combined for 29 hits.
Saceldo tripled to lead off the game, Jordan Gardner followed with a double to drive Salcedo in and Francis Christy (right) slammed his sixth home run of the season, a two-run shot over the rightfield fence to put the Comets in front early 3-0.
Palomar (17-4, 8-1 to lead the PCAC) added two more runs in the fifth inning on sngles by Niko Holm and Chase Grant and Salcedo's double to left field.
That made it 5-0, and it appeared the Southern California No. 2-ranked Comets were cruising with starting pitcher Jake Barnett dominating. Barnett had allowed two scratch singles over four shutout innings while striking out seven.
But Barnett suddenly hit a wall in the fifth, City College scored four runs in the bottom of the inning and the teams traded hits the rest of the way.
Barnett was gone and Rusty Huber, who picked up the pitching win in a short appearance, was also gone along with Graham Gomez who had an even shorter appearance, by the time regular starter Tyler Russell, who beat the Knights 1-0 on Tuesday, was summoned out of the bullpen. Russell regained control of the game for the Comets with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, striking out two.
Anthony Balderas moved from first base to the mound to pitch the bottom of the ninth, retiring the Knights on a high pop-up shortstop Dylan Breault went far back on the grass to catch, a walk, a strikeout and another pop-up to first. And the Comets were out of the woods on a bright, hot afternoon after 3 hours, 21 minutes of baseball.
Gardner (2-for-5, RBI), Sam Casinelli (2-for-3), and Chis Stratton (2-for-5) all had multiple hits. Chase Grant and Brault also hit safely.
For City College, Gabriel Santana came of the bench to go 3-for-3, highlighting a 14-hit attack in a losing cause.
Palomar, which swept its season series with the Knights four games to none, has a bye week in the conference race coming up and will return to action the following week when they play three games against Imperial Valley.
TOP PHOTO: Palomar's Jordan Gardner slides under Ricky Kliebenstein's tag as he steals second base in the seventh inning on Thursday. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Winning pitcher Troy Lamparello fires to the plate. He struck out five batters in the first five innings.-- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Taylor Turski, who struck out seven in three relief innings.
Lamparello (5-0), Turski fan 12; PC up 2 games
SAN MARCOS (3-12-2015) -- Starter Troy Lamparello and reliever Taylor Turski combined to strike out 12 batters over eight shutout innings on Thursday as Palomar beat San Diego City College 6-1 at Myers Field.
The Comets (16-4, 7-1 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference) now lead second-place Southwestern by two games in the conference race, thanks to San Diego Mesa which came from behind to upset the Jaguars on Thursday 10-6.
Lamparello (5-0), Turski and two other Palomar pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter at the Knights. City College finally scored an unearned run in the top of the ninth, but Rusty Huber came on to get the Comets out of the inning by getting the last two outs.
Lamparello allowed three hits over the first five innings, striking out five batters. Turski retired all nin batters he faced over the next three innings, recording svn strikeouts. He struck out the side in the sixth and eighth innings.
Anthony Balderas (2-for-4, double, RBI, steal) and Alec Salcedo (2-for-3, RBI, steal) had multiple hits for the Comets. Francis Christy drove in a run with a triple, Cole Brooks had an RBI single and Jordan Gardner was 1-for-2, was hit by a pitch and also stole a base. Dylan Brault walked three times and also had a steal.
McIver notches 2 saves vs. No. 7 Mississippi St.
STARKSVILLE, Miss. / MESA, Ariz. / Other (3/08/2015) (UPDATED 3/10/2015) -- Former Palomar pitcher Anthony McIver (left) notched two saves for the University of San Diego vs. nationally No. 7-ranked Mississippi State over the weekend as the Toreros won the teams' series 2 games to 1.
On Friday, McIver threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings as USD won 2-1 at Polk-Dement Stadium in Starkesville, Mississippi. On Sunday, he came back with another scoreless inning as the Toreros came from behind to beat the Bulldogs again 9-6. Palomar alum Gary Cornish started on the mound in Sunday's game for USD.
In Major League spring training on Sunday, ex-Comet Tyler Saladino (right) of the Chicago White Sox went 2-for-3, scored a run and drove in a run in a 10-4 victory over the Oakland A's at Mesa, Arizona. Saladino, elevated to the Sox' 40-man roster after playing for the Major League club the last three springs as a non-roster player, is hitting .284 for the spring. Saladino, who was the International League's All-Star shortstop last season on the Triple-A level, is listed at shortstop on Chicago's roster but played third base on Sunday.
On Friday, Saladino played but did not face former Comet Nick Vincent in a 5-0 loss to the Padres at Peoria, Arizona. Vincent, who is beginning his fourth season on the Major League level for the Padres, pitched a scoreless relief inning against the White Sox, striking out two and walking none.
James Hoyt, who pitched in spring training for the Atlanta Braves a year ago as a non-roster invitee before being shipped to the minor leagues, has thrown three shutout innings for the Houston Astros as a non-roster invitee this spring. Hoyt's most recent appearance came on Friday when he shut out the Cardinals in the third inning in a game the Astros eventually lost 5-2 in Jupiter, Florida.
Marcus Hatley, now with the Cardinals, reported to his third Major League spring training camp as a non-roster invitee. Hatley, who came to the Cards in the off-season from the Chicago Cubs organization, pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning for the Major League club before being assigned to their minor league camp on Friday.
MORE ALUMNI HIGHLIGHTS -- Dillan Smith (left), last season's Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the Comets, is starting in right field for San Jose State and had back-to-back two-hit games vs. Stanford and the Air Force Academy last week.
Smith went 2-for-6 in a 13-8 loss to Stanford on Tuesday, then on Friday was 2-for-3, doubled and drove in two runs in a 2-0 Mountain West Conference victory over Air Force. ...
Zach Wilkins, Palomar all-time saves leader, has appeared in six games with a 0.00 ERA for Nevada. The Wolfpack improved to 13-2 over the weekend by sweeping three games from rival UNLV.
(Home Games in Bold)
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