COC baseball cracks under Santa Ana pressure

College of the Canyons' Anthony Medina (20) reaches to grab a grounder between first and second base during a baseball game against Santa Ana on Friday, May 5, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

College of the Canyons baseball’s Kris Keach sounded like an old sage after the Cougars’ 10-5 home loss to Santa Ana on Friday afternoon.

“Worry about today. There’s enough worries tomorrow,” Keach said.

The infielder was referring to his team’s mindset in the first round of California Community College Athletic Association Southern California Regional playoffs.

MORE: COC Insider: Cougars on the championship prowl

Wednesday’s game was the first of a best-of-three series, but COC (27-13 overall, 17-3 in WSC, East) already seemed to be focused on the second.

Julio Rivera homered in the first inning for the Dons (27-14 overall, 10-11 in Orange Empire Conference), who tacked on four more runs in the fourth inning.

Keach hit a home run of his own in the bottom of the fourth, but Santa Ana scored twice in the fifth to extend its lead to 6-1.

But No. 3-seeded Canyons still lumbered along and scored on a Keach sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.

College of the Canyons’ Senituli Taufahema (1) tries to catch a fly ball in the outfield during a baseball game against Santa Ana on Friday, May 5, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“He brought a good approach to the plate,” said coach Chris Cota of Keach. “He was short to the ball and scored them up today.”

The No. 14 Dons added a run in the seventh, then Derek Reilly hit a three-run home run in the eighth to ratchet Santa Ana’s lead up to 10-2.

The Cougars, who are no strangers to late comebacks, had a ninth-inning burst of energy.

Senituli Taufahema hit an RBI double, Cole Kleszcz knocked in an RBI single and Anthony Medina provided a run thanks to a sacrifice fly for three last-minute runs.

“We were a little flat starting,” Keach said. “I do believe that the score doesn’t really match how hard we worked, especially because our team is put together so many late inning comebacks and we just know that today wasn’t our day. And it’s okay.”

Santa Ana pitcher Guillermo Sanchez pitched a complete game, allowing 10 hits and striking out five.

“I think their guy kept us off balance at the plate a little bit and we just couldn’t get anything going,” Cota said. “But we’ll iron it out.”

Canyons continues its series against the Dons at 11 a.m. today at home. If necessary, a third game will be played at approximately 2 p.m.

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