By Jesse Muñoz
For The Signal
College of the Canyons starting pitcher Jacob Lopez struck out a career-high 14 batters and the Cougars clubbed 17 hits to clip conference rival Citrus College 10-0 on Thursday.
The win was the fourth in a row for Canyons (21-11 overall, 10-3 in Western State Conference, East) and came on a cold and blustery day at Cougar Field, with high winds swirling throughout the contest.
That didn’t seem to bother Lopez, however, as the lefty began the game by striking eight Citrus (19-4, 8-5) batters over the first three innings.
Lopez (7-2) allowed just three hits and two walks. He exited the contest with the game well in hand after seven innings of work.
“Jacob pitched excellent today, pounding the zone while dealing with the elements,” said COC head coach Chris Cota. “He was outstanding and we will look to him down the stretch.”
The 14 punch-outs extended Lopez’ state-leading season total to 105 and helped lower his conference-leading ERA to 1.77. The Saugus grad has now reached double-digit strikeout totals in four straight starts.
Valencia product Trace Eldridge put the Cougars on the board in the first with a two-run home run that sailed over the right field wall. Five batters later, Ivan Lomeli roped a double down the right field line that scored two more runs for a 4-0 lead. Eldridge finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
COC sophomore outfielder Calvin Estrada continued his season-long tear by going 4-for-5 with a double, triple, stolen base and three runs. His double to right field in the seventh also drove home a run and helped spark a three-run rally that sealed the Owls’ fate at 10-0.
Estrada, who had a 12-game hit streak snapped on April 3, is leading the WSC with a .466 average. He has hit safely in 16 of the last 17 games, with 10 multi-hit games during that span.
Last Saturday, Estrada hit for the cycle, and added an extra home run for good measure, finishing 6-for-6 with eight RBIs to lead Canyons back from an 8-0 deficit to a 19-10 victory over Antelope Valley.
Elsewhere in the lineup Tyler Erne was 3-for-5 and Eddie Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
The Cougars are currently two games back of conference-leading Glendale College (23-10, 12-1) with just eight regular season games remaining on the schedule. The two teams will begin a three-game series on Tuesday, which could ultimately decide the conference championship.
Up next, Canyons will hit the road to conclude its three-game set with the Citrus at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Softball Savors Victory With Postgame ‘Lemons for Leukemia”
The Cougars definitely had a sour taste in their mouth after Thursday’s game vs. L.A. Mission College, but it had nothing to do with the 10-2 final score that gave COC its fourth straight win.
Canyons (22-11, 13-0) made short work of the Eagles, needing just five innings to win its fourth straight game and remain perfect against conference opponents.
Danielle Chatman and Jordan Vallejo both knocked in three runs for the Cougars, and Katie Clinkunbroomer scored three runs to help pace the offense.
Chatman finished 2-for-3 with two doubles and also scored a run. Vallejo was 2-for-3 with a double, triple and two runs, and Rena Edwards went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs.
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Joy Veloz (8-3) won her fifth straight start after holding the Eagles to just one run in four and 1/3 innings of work. She struck out five and walked two along the way.
Prior to the start of Thursday’s regularly scheduled contest, COC concluded its road game vs. LAMC, which originally began back on March 13 but had to be halted due to weather, with the Cougars leading 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning. COC added another run to its tally for a 6-2 final score.
After the game, the Cougars took part in a ‘Lemons for Leukemia’ challenge which featured COC head coach John Wissmath and his entire roster of players biting into lemons as a way of simulating the bitter taste experienced by patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
The event came about in response to a challenge issued to the squad by the COC football program, which hosted its own ‘Lemons for Leukemia’ event back on March 23.
“The goal is to raise awareness about the disease and the ongoing need for bone marrow donations that could potentially save someone’s life,” explained COC athletics program specialist and former COC softball player Lauren Anderson.
Anderson’s four-year-old daughter, Kailyn, is in need of a bone marrow transplant and still searching for a match after having been diagnosed with high risk B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
After the event, the softball team plans to take to social media to issue a ‘Lemons for Leukemia’ challenge to the COC baseball team.
It’s hoped that the various teams, clubs and individuals who take part in the lemons themed challenge will also be inspired to attend the upcoming ‘Be the Match – City of Hope’ bone marrow registry drive taking place at the COC Valencia campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 25.
For more information visit https://join.bethematch.org/teamkailyn.
Canyons Sends Two Doubles Teams to Regional Tourney
COC women’s tennis will conclude its inaugural season by sending four student-athletes to the 2018 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California regional tournament after having two of its doubles teams qualify during last weekend’s conference championship tournament.
The doubles duo of Jenny Cranert and Leilani Figalan will be joined by the team of Marisa Wambolt and Brienna Best at the CCCAA Singles & Doubles Championships being held in Ojai April 26-29.
“The ladies played amazing last weekend,” said COC women’s tennis head coach Patty LaBat. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have two teams advance to the regional tourney. What a fantastic finish to a fantastic first year of tennis at COC. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of ladies to start a new program with.”
For more information about the Cougars’ 17 intercollegiate sports programs visit www.COCathletics.com.