BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
GLENDALE -- Glendale College coach Chris Cicuto left no doubt about how important he felt Tuesday night's game was against Bakersfield College.
Glendale ran its best two starting pitchers to the mound, with Angel Rodriguez going seven sharp innings and No. 1 starter Tei Vanderford throwing two shutdown innings in relief to wrap it up as the Vaqueros beat BC 5-1.
"It's the biggest game of the year," Cicuto said. "Until Thursday." That's when BC plays host to Glendale in a 6 p.m. game.
"We came down to win and obviously we didn't make that happen," BC coach Tim Painton said.
The loss drops the Renegades to 24-9 overall and 16-5 in the Western State Conference South Division with three games left in the regular season. Glendale (22-9, 16-3 WSC) has five games left.
The other WSC South team in contention, College of the Canyons, fell 8-3 Tuesday to L.A. Valley and is 13-6 in WSC play.
"I don't care about Canyons. I don't care about anyone else except us," Painton said. "We've got to take care of ourselves these last three games."
The Glendale game on Thursday is critical for BC's league title hopes, Painton acknowledged.
"It's not necessarily a must for our playoff hopes, but if we want to stay in the championship race, yeah," Painton said. "Without that, we have no chance."
The top two finishers in the WSC South are guaranteed playoff spots, and four at-large teams from throughout Southern California conferences will round out the playoff field.
Cicuto said Glendale is treating this week's two games with the Renegades as though they are regional playoff games.
"Our philosophy was to win today; it might rain tomorrow," Cicuto said. "We told everyone: 'You're on the board.'"
Rodriguez improved to 6-2.
Vanderford is 5-2 with a 1.15 ERA. So will he get the start at BC on Thursday?
"We'll figure out who starts Thursday when we get to Thursday," Cicuto said. "We may bring Tei back. I don't know."
BC scored its only run in the sixth when Kyle Nixon led off with a double to deep center field and Justin Martinez lined a two-out single just over the glove of leaping shortstop Eddie Munoz.
Nixon scored on a head-first slide to beat a strong throw from left fielder Justin Jones.
Jones had the defensive play of the game in the seventh.
After Jordan Turner's leadoff single, Luc Pomales hit a shot into left-center field. Jones, who appeared to have no chance to make the play, made a running catch and fired a strong throw to the infield. Turner didn't get back to first in time as the relay from second baseman Sergio Plasencia completed a double play.
"That was a momentum changer," Cicuto said. "If our guy doesn't make that play, I think Bakersfield gets a big, big lift."
Glendale scored in the second on Edgar Montes' second home run of the season.
A walk, stolen base, sacrifice and squeeze bunt by Munoz gave Glendale a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
After Nixon scored to make it 2-1 in the sixth, Glendale scored three in the bottom of the inning. The key hit was Plasencia's bloop two-run double into short right field. Jones added an RBI double later in the inning.
"We didn't have that many scoring chances and neither did they," Painton said. "They hit a solo home run, they squeezed in a run and they had an inning when we walked a guy, we didn't have good defense and they dunked a double in."
Nixon went 3-for-4 for BC. Jones went 3-for-4 for Glendale.