RCC Baseball Routs #2 Glendale, Advances To State Tournament

Ignacio Alvarez is batting .500 in the postseason in helping RCC baseball advance to the state tournament.
Ignacio Alvarez is batting .500 in the postseason in helping RCC baseball advance to the state tournament.

The No. 3-seeded Riverside City College baseball team completed a two-game sweep over #2 Glendale College, 14-2, on Saturday to advance to its first CCCAA State Championship Tournament in 14 years.

The Tigers (35-12) avoided any drama with a 5-run, third inning in soundly beating a Vaqueros (38-9) team that had lost just seven games all year going into their best-of-3, Southern California Regional Third Round playoff series. 

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the third, Riverside, batting last as the designated home team for the contest, went on an extra-base feast. The Tigers hit four doubles in the frame starting with a two-bagger by second baseman Darius Price to lead things off. Centerfielder Julian Alvarez reached on an error by the Glendale shortstop that scored Price to tie it.

After a single by shortstop Sebastian Flores, the next three batters ripped doubles. Third baseman Ignacio Alvarez and rightfielder Matthew Bardowell each knocked in a run, then designated hitter Bret Bowers delivered a 2-run double to up the Tigers lead to 5-1. 

Riverside went to the long ball in the middle innings as Alvarez launched a 2-run shot in the fourth and Bardowell, the Orange Empire Conference's MVP, hit his team-leading sixth bomb, also a 2-run dinger in the sixth. With a giant 12-1 cushion, the Tigers would breeze through the final three innings to enjoy capping its third series win in regionals. 

Bardowell, Ignacio Alvarez, Flores, Bowers and first baseman Daniel Garcia each collected two hits as part of a 12-hit attack.

On the mound, Giancarlo Flores pitched admirably with 4-2/3 innings of 5-hit ball (two runs) and five strikeouts before giving way to relievers Luis Sakemi Sato, who earned his third playoff victory mowing down six Glendale batters via K in three innings, and Jon Mocherman, who struck out the side in the ninth. The three hurlers combined to whiff 14 Vaqueros batters. 

Sakemi Sato and Ryan Hernandez have been especially stellar relievers in the postseason. The two hurlers have combined to go 5-0 in 21 innings of relief work, allowing just 12 hits, three runs (one earned), striking out a whopping 27 batters, and recording a microscopic ERA of 0.43. 

Going back to April 7, RCC has been red hot, producing a 16-2 record, including a sparkling 6-1 playoff mark in sweeping #14 Grossmont, winning 2-of-3 over #11 Cypress and surprising host #2 Glendale in another sweep. 

In seven postseason games, Riverside is averaging 8.9 runs per game with 23 extra-base hits (15 doubles, seven HRs, and a triple). Ignacio Alvarez ignited the playoff offense with a .500 average, two home runs, three doubles, a triple and 12 RBI. 

Riverside returns to the state championship tournament after finishing in third place at the 2008 tourney. The Tigers last won the state title in 2007 and orchestrated three straight championships in 2000-2002 as the college has collected four overall titles in its baseball history.

The 2022 CCCAA State Championships take place Saturday-Monday, May 28-30 at Folsom Lake College. Riverside will go in as the #1 South seed with Palomar occuping the #2 seed as the South Region's participants.