By Jesse Muñoz
For The Signal
College of the Canyons baseball started the second round of conference play with an important 11-0 win over conference and regional rival Antelope Valley College on Tuesday in the first of a three-game set.
The Cougars drew first blood with a two-run home run from freshman Nate Duarte in the fourth inning. Duarte brought home two more runs in the fifth on an RBI single that put Canyons ahead 5-0. He finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs.
Felix Brandt, Luke Chung and Max Mehlbaum also knocked in runs in what turned out to be a five-run fifth inning for COC.
Chung’s 4-for-5 performance led the Cougars and helped the freshman from Valencia High School stay in the hunt for the Western State Conference (WSC) batting title. Chung is currently batting .393 to sit four points back of the conference leader, Adrian Campos of L.A. Valley at .397.
Mehlbaum finished the game with three RBIs after an RBI double in the seventh and a final-dagger RBI single in the eighth to put the game at 11-0. He was 3-for-5 with a walk and three RBIs.
Cougars starter Brendan Henry (2-3) picked up his second win in his last three starts in six innings of shutout work vs. the Marauders. The sophomore scattered six hits and struck out four batters to lower his team-best ERA to 3.63. His 44 and 2/3 innings of work also lead the club.
Canyons (11-11, 3-3) continues to flirt with the .500 mark, having alternated wins and losses over the last four games.
COC and AVC (8-12, 3-3) continue their series today at 2:30 p.m. in Lancaster. The finale is slated for 1 p.m. on Saturday at Cougar Field.
Softball Socks Victor Valley 18-1
COC matched its season-high run total with an emphatic 18-1 five-inning home win over Victor Valley College on Tuesday.
Canyons (10-8, 4-2) clubbed 13 hits in the game, but did most of its damage in a big 14-run first inning. COC brought 17 batters to the plate in the first frame, nearly batting through the lineup twice.
Victor Valley (4-12, 1-5) scored its lone run in the third inning, but was never really in the game.
Rena Edwards and Valerie Rivas both recorded three RBIs in the contest. Edwards finished 2-for-2 with a triple, two runs and a stolen base.
Brianna Vazquez scored a team-high three runs, while Micayla Aguilar, Sierra Boyajian, Natsuki Kameyama, Kaitlyn Post and Natalie Topete each crossed home plate twice.
The Lady Cougars continue the current homestand with a 2:30 p.m. matchup vs. Barstow College on Thursday, followed by a home doubleheader vs. Santa Monica on Friday.
Women’s Tennis Gets Past AVC 5-4
After a tough two-match skid the Lady Cougars got back in the win column with a 5-4 road victory over Antelope Valley College on Tuesday.
Canyons (9-5) got the victory despite playing shorthanded and forfeiting both a singles and doubles match.
The 5-4 result was aided by wins from Una Stanisavljevic (6-0, 6-3), Nicole Villarta (6-1, 6-4) and Seleste Sakato (6-0, 6-3).
The doubles pairing of Stanisavljevic/Sakato won 8-1, while the combination of Celeste Hernandez/Villarta was an 8-5 winner.
COC will next host Bakersfield in its final home match at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Men’s Golf Pushes Win Streak to Four
COC freshman Nobuhiko Wakaari medaled in his fourth WSC event of the season with a 3-under par round of 69 at Antelope Valley Country Club to help push the Cougars to their fourth win in as many weeks.
Wakaari, who was seven-under at one point in Monday’s event, currently leads the conference’s individual standings by a 15-stroke margin. He has finished par or better in three of the last four events.
Canyons (387) was followed by Santa Barbara City College (380) and Glendale College (382) in third.
After Monday’s win the Cougars also lead the team standings with an overall record of 45-3, just ahead of second place SBCC at 43-5.
Wakaari’s round highlighted a day in which Canyons swept the tourney’s top three spots.
Matthew Mansholt was runner-up with an even-par round of 72. The sophomore hadn’t competed since week three but stepped up in a big way. Tom Sims followed close behind with a score of 73 to tie for third with three other golfers.
The Cougars get back on the course Monday at Spring Valley Lake Golf Course in Victorville.
Cougars Track & Field Shines in Bakersfield
The Cougars returned from the Bakersfield College Relays with nine wins and six runner-up finishes after a strong showing in which the Cougars fared well across the board in sprints, distance, jumps, throws and relays.
Tatiana Smith recorded wins in both the 100-meter (12.59-seconds) and 200m (26.03) events and Brianna Helsley finished first in the 400m (1-minute, 3.42-seconds). Celeste Gonzalez had the top time in the 800m (2:31.96) before taking runner-up status in the 1,500m (5:22.50).
The Cougars men’s team was led by Timothy Sterkel’s dual wins in the 800m (1:58.41) and 5,000m (16:08.73).
Jacob Acosta won the 3,000m steeplechase at a pace of 10:40.13 and freshman Jordan Palmer tossed for a mark of 14.87m (48-feet, 9.5-inches) which was tops on the day. Delon Buncio won the 400h at 57.24 and also scored points by taking third in the triple jump (12.77m / 41′ 10.75″) and fourth in the long jump (6.49m / 21′ 3.5″).
COC’s 4x100m relay team of Buncio, Tony Collier, Adam Burke and Lavell Bailey were runner-ups at a time of 43.98 to narrowly trail the team from Pasadena City College at 43.20.
Likewise, for the 4x400m relay team of Buncio, Troy Chairez, Jeremiah Brown and Jacore Johnson which was runner-up at 3:24.76.
Canyons next compete at the Antelope Valley College Invitational on Friday.
Registration Still Open for COC Soccer Skills Academy
Youth soccer players from across the Santa Clarita Valley are invited to the COC Soccer Skills Academy running April 11 to May 30. Open to boys and girls in kindergarten through eighth grade, the eight-week academy will be run by coaches and players from the COC men’s and women’s soccer programs.
Tuition for the COC Soccer Skills Academy is $80 per player. Players are required to provide their own cleats, shin guards, soccer socks, ball and water. Training sessions will be held on Thursday nights at the COC Soccer Facility located on the college’s Valencia campus. All proceeds support the college’s men’s and women’s soccer programs. Interested parents are asked to visit www.COCsoccercamps.com.