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GCC hoping for encore

Baseball: Vaqueros open regional playoffs and look forward to another possible deep run.

April 30, 2012|By Grant Gordon

After an unprecedented run to the state championships a season ago, Glendale Community College's baseball team is doing its best for an encore. And the first act will begin Saturday at Stengel Field, when the fifth-seeded Vaqueros host No. 12 San Diego Mesa in the first round of the Southern California Regional.

Vaqueros Coach Chris Cicuto's squad began its run to state last season with a similar seeding and hosted a first-round regional, as well. With a healthy mix of returners and newcomers coloring this year's run to a second consecutive Western State Conference South Division title, it's a safe bet that the returners' postseason experience will pay dividends, while contending with the pressure of duplicating last year's historic results.

"I'm gonna guess there's a couple of our sophomores that are feeling some stress to duplicate last year's success, but if we can maintain the mentality that you can't think about Super Regionals before you get through regionals, if we can just worry about those small little battles, we could be back there," said Cicuto on Sunday after the pairings were released. "We're gonna take it pitch by pitch. That's the game plan."

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The series opener is set for 1 p.m. Saturday with the second game at 11 a.m. Sunday. A possible third game will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the second contest.

San Diego Mesa (20-15) makes the trek north to face the Vaqueros (25-10) after finishing second in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference. Mesa is coming off a loss to Grossmont in its final game of the regular season, but had won three straight before that.

"They can pitch, similar to us," said Cicuto, who said he doesn't know much about his team's opponent yet, but will quickly begin making phone calls to find out as much as he can. "They've got pretty good arms and their offense is OK.

"It's a good seed for us; we've seen good arms before."

Offensively, Mesa is led by Patrick De La Garza (.316 average, 17 runs, 13 runs batted in, 14 stolen bases) and Justin Esquerra (.302, 24 runs, 16 RBI), but doesn't offer much pop with the team having tallied just three home runs on the season. Chris Tuma leads the pitching staff with an 8-3 record and a 2.75 earned-run average. As a whole, the team boasts a 3.93 ERA, which includes closer Brian Kaye, who has nine saves and a 0.93 ERA.

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