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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Canyons Rides Wind to Victory at Oxnard

Baseball: Cougars rally with four runs in ninth inning and Baker saves 5-4 decision.

March 29, 1998|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

OXNARD — Chris Baker's cheeks were chapped red by the frigid wind Saturday at Oxnard College.

Or was it the warmth of a victory embrace?

"Now that we won, I feel pretty warm," Baker said. "But it's cold out here."

Baker pitched out of a chilling ninth-inning jam to preserve College of the Canyons' 5-4 victory over Oxnard in a Western State Conference interdivision baseball game at Oxnard.

A relentless wind made players and spectators shiver for 3 1/2 hours before Baker blew a fastball past Shawn Fossen for a game-ending strike, stranding the tying run at third.

After a brief celebration, the Cougars (14-8, 6-7 in conference play) packed quickly and headed for their cars and vans.

"We're all freezing," Canyons Coach Len Mohney said. "But that's a fine win for us. We held in there and stayed involved."

The loss was a cold slap in the face for Oxnard, which committed five errors--two during Canyons' four-run ninth.

Oxnard Coach Pat Woods, who arose at dawn to purge water from the rain-soaked field, sat quietly in the dugout and muttered an expletive.

"Five . . . errors," Woods said. "I don't think we've made more than one error [in a game] all season."

Oxnard (16-6, 9-3) entered the week a game behind first-place Cuesta in the WSC North Division. The Condors, however, have lost two of their past three games.

"I'm concerned," Woods said. "I don't know if we're working as hard as we once did."

Oxnard rallied from a 1-0 deficit with three runs in the fifth inning off freshman left-hander Jeremy Shields.

Matt Pitstick singled to drive home Jack Wilson and Jess Sanchez followed with a two-run home run inside the right-field foul pole.

In the eighth, Pitstick doubled against Wayne Mahaffey and scored on a single by Sanchez.

Canyons erupted in the ninth, parlaying four walks, two errors and a single into four runs. Designated hitter Albert Palma lined a single to left field to drive in Matt McAfee with the deciding run.

Pat Youngern (0-1), who replaced Carlos Morales in the eighth, was charged with the loss. Mahaffey (3-0) earned the victory.

Baker, academically ineligible last season, entered in the ninth and notched his first save. Baker allowed a leadoff single, then retired the next three batters.

"It was a real problem getting loose in the pen," Baker said. "But I got going all right. This was a good morale-builder for me. It felt good to be out in that situation again."

Canyons scored a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Jesse Daggett that drove in Nick Katzenstein.

Third baseman Brent Egan and shortstop Jack Wilson made errors to aid Canyons' ninth-inning rally. Youngern hindered the cause with a wild pitch that allowed Jesse Daggett to score.

"We couldn't play catch with it today," Woods said.

*

* COLLEGE ROUNDUP: C18

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