College of the Canyons started its 2018 campaign in the win column after going to extra innings to claim a 5-4 ‘Opening Day’ victory over El Camino College on Friday afternoon at Cougar Field.
Canyons (1-0) was able to parlay a stellar performance by sophomore southpaw Jacob Lopez with a series of timely hits in the middle innings to build a 4-0 lead over El Camino (0-1).
Lopez, who earned All-Western State Conference honors as a freshman after turning in a 4-3 record and 3.19 ERA, was quick to get in rhythm on Friday.
The Warriors didn’t record a hit until the fifth inning when Lopez surrendered a two-out single, before inducing a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
It was more of the same in the sixth, with El Camino first baseman Spencer Palmer getting a leadoff single before Lopez ended the inning with another double play, this time coming 6-4-3.
Lopez also missed lots of bats along the way, with the lefty notching nine strikeouts through his 8 1/3 innings of work.
Meanwhile, the Cougars plated a pair of runs off El Camino starter Kenneth Haus in the fourth to take a 2-0 lead.
Back-to-back singles by Senituli Taufahema and Eddie Rodriguez got things started. Third baseman Tyler Erne then singled home Taufahema and two batters later Eddie Rosales walked to bring around Rodriguez.
In the fifth, Trace Eldrige reached base on an error to begin the inning and Rodriguez came up with an RBI groundout to bring in the unearned run that put the game at 3-0.
Canyons capped its scoring with a sixth-inning double to deep right field from Ivan Lomeli that scored Rosales and pushed the lead to 4-0.
Haus allowed five hits and issued three walks over seven innings. He was charged with three earned runs, but also recorded seven strikeouts.
The Warriors didn’t go down without a fight, however, as ECC plated four runs in the top of the ninth to force the game into a tenth frame.
Lopez started the ninth inning and stuck out the first batter he faced. But back-to-back singles prompted COC head coach Chris Cota to give the ball to closer Connor Dreyer.
Perhaps encouraged by Lopez’ removal, the Warriors were able to put together a three-hit rally that scored a trio of runs. Finally, a sacrifice fly by Joseph Borges tied the game at 4-4.
Dreyer, who recorded six saves in 2017 while also earning All-WSC honors, was charged with two earned runs in his 2/3 inning of work. The other two went to Lopez’ stat line.
In all, Lopez allowed five hits and two earned runs in the no-decision.
The Cougars went down in order in the ninth, then gave the ball to sophomore reliever Jarrett Poh (1-0) who worked a flawless 10th inning, striking out two batters.
Moments later Taufahema doubled to right field and Rodriguez picked him up with a walk-off RBI single that brought the Cougars running onto the field in celebration of a 5-4 final score.
Rodriguez finished the game 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs.
Taufahema was 2-for-5 with the game-winning run and Erne finished 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Rosales was equally productive with a pair of walks, a run and an RBI.
Poh (1-0) was credited with the win, while ECC hurler Nathan Draves (0-1) took the loss.
Here’s the box score.
Canyons and El Camino will conclude their home and away series at 12 p.m. Saturday in Torrance.
Stay up to date on all this season’s action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
— By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
— Photos by Stephanie Corral/COC Sports Information