The COC Baseball team captured their first win in conference play on Tuesday, March 9th. Jason Galvin has the highlights. Photographed and edited by Brian Lewis
By Jason Galvin – Cougar News Staff Writer
Ben Nicewicz pitched four no-hit innings, and Cal Vogelsang hit a game-clinching homerun as the College of the Canyons Cougars ended a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over L.A. Valley College on Tuesday at COC.
Nicewicz replaced starter Devon Ramirez in the sixth inning, and allowed only two base runners, one on an error in the sixth inning and another on a seventh inning walk, while striking out four. Ramirez (2-0) held on for the win for the Cougars (7-5, 1-1), who got their first conference win of the season. Ramirez allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits. Chase Munoz (0-2) pitched all eight innings for Valley (1-11, 1-1), allowing five runs, two earned on six hits.
“I thought our (COC’s) guys pitched well, I thought their guy pitched well,” said Cougar Head Coach Chris Cota. “Obviously Vogelsang’s homer at the end put it away.”
The Cougars led by one heading into the bottom of the eighth inning when Vogelsang turned on a slider for his team leading fourth homerun of the season, putting the game away for the Cougars.
“They were throwing me inside all day, and I got a slider up and in, and turned on it naturally,” said Vogelsang, a freshman outfielder. “I got a hold of it, and actually didn’t think it was going to get out because of the wind, but got enough on it.”
COC continued to struggle defensively, with two errors, but Valley had three fielding mistakes, two in the first inning that led to the Cougars first three runs, giving the fledgling Cougar pitching staff some breathing room. COC’s pitching staff came into the game with a 4.45 ERA, and that doesn’t include the 22 unearned runs the Cougars have allowed this season. COC position players have combined to accumulate 26 errors this season, and because of it the team has played from behind more often than not.
“I’m not sure [why the team has committed so many errors],” Cota said. “We work on it everyday in practice, but errors are a part of the game.”
COC got the scoring started in the bottom of the first when Robert Vickers reached on an error by Valley first baseman Tre McMaster, scoring both Hugo Hernandez and Cal Vogelsang. Two batters later, Nico Moreno hit a fly ball to right field that was misplayed by Oscar Soriano, and Vickers came around to score to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead.
Valley got on the board in the top of the third inning, when Josh Brown hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Sean McGrier. In the fifth, Miguel Ceja reached on an error by Vickers, scoring Soriano and bringing Valley within one. But in the end, the pitching of Nicewicz put the game away.
“Nicewicz was outstanding. We were a little concerned with Ramirez’s pitch count…but Nicewicz did a good job coming in and nailing [the game] down,” said Cota.
The Cougars travel to West L.A. on Thursday for a 2pm game, before returning home versus West L.A. at 1pm on Saturday.