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Vaqueros rise above for win

Baseball: Despite five errors, GCC gets fine pitching, clutch hitting to notch 5-4 win over Canyons.

April 08, 2011|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • GCC pitcher John La started against College of the Canyons at Stengel Field on Thursday.
GCC pitcher John La started against College of the Canyons… (Tim Berger, Staff…)

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Late in Thursday afternoon's Western State Conference South Division ballgame, Glendale Community College Coach Chris Cicuto was asked by one of his assistants if he could recall ever having won a one-run game despite having committed five errors.

Cicuto replied: "I don't know, but we're going to today."

And on a most unpredictable afternoon of baseball, Cicuto's prognostication came to fruition, as the Vaqueros, buoyed by a strong start on the mound from John La, a stellar relief appearance by Joe Stephan and a redeeming three-run home run from Sako Chapjian, defeated College of the Canyons, 5-4, at Stengel Field.

"We just stayed in the game," said Vaqueros catcher Erik Suarez of his team prevailing despite committing five errors and giving up four unearned runs. "We didn't let the errors get to us like we have in the past."

Down 1-0 with Crescenta Valley High product John Salas holding the Vaqueros at bay on offense, GCC (17-11, 8-7 in conference) erupted for four runs in the bottom of the fifth, with Suarez delivering a go-ahead double before Chapjian blasted a first-pitch offering over the fence in left-center field.

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"It got to me a little bit," said Chapjian of his fielding woes, which saw him commit three errors and also bobble a double-play ball and have to settle for one out. "But I couldn't let it get to me completely because I knew I had to help the team at the plate and, sure enough, I did."

Chapjian, a Hoover High graduate, began the game at second base — a switch from third to accommodate the returning Nick Bozeman. Chapjian made two errors at second and a third when he was moved back over to third base. Josh Canales, who took over for Chapjian at second, also had two errors. But Chapjian, with one swing, almost made up for all the damage.

"Sako came up big with that home run," said Suarez, who went two for four with a run, an RBI and a stolen base. "It kind of made up for those errors."

Through it all, La, another Hoover product, persevered.

"His composure was outstanding," Cicuto said.

La went 6 1/3 innings, giving up four runs — all of them unearned — while allowing eight hits, two walks and striking out two. It was only his second start of the season.

He was relieved in the seventh by Stephen, who was making his first appearance in roughly six weeks, according to Cicuto.

"He's been chomping at the bit to get in there," Cicuto said. "He's hungrier."

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