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GCC moves on to state

Baaeball: Vaqueros win Super Regional and keep their historic season alive.

May 18, 2011|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com

WHITTIER — For all the last at-bat heroics and nailbiting dramatics that have characterized the Glendale Community College baseball team's run to and through the postseason, the Vaqueros' biggest triumph thus far in a magical season came with a reasonable margin of comfort.

That did little to lessen the adulation of the Vaqueros as reliever Michael Noteware struck out the last batter of the game to put the finishing touches on defeating Southwestern, 11-5, in the championship game of the Rio Hondo Super Regional on Saturday afternoon to advance to the California Community College Athletic Assn. State Championship for the first time in program history.

"Jubilation," said GCC's Ellis Whitman. "It's a great feeling. … We got it done."

Behind a multi-faceted offense keyed by big-time contributions from Sako Chapjian and Whitman and a solid start on the mound from Thomas Korn, the Vaqueros capitalized on a plethora of Southwestern miscues to continue a historic season.

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"It's amazing," said GCC Coach Chris Cicuto. "Absolutely, 100 % amazing."

GCC (28-14), which went 3-0 in the Super Regional and has won five straight, will now open up play in the 2011 CCCAA Baseball State Championship on Friday at noon at Bakersfield College against San Joaquin Delta (31-11) out of Northern California. In the other opening-round game, Southern California's Santa Ana (29-13) will face Ohlone (26-17) at 6 p.m. The double-elimination tournament runs through Sunday.

Chapjian collected three hits, including a solo home run, drove in three runs and scored two, while Whitman tallied a pair of hits, three RBI, two runs and two stolen bases. In all, the Vaqueros stole seven bases with seven of nine starters combining for 13 hits, while also making the most of five Jaguars errors.

"It's crazy," said Chapjian of making it to state. "Just going through all the stuff we've gone through – injuries, the ups and downs – this feels great."

One of myriad injuries the Vaqueros have incurred was to captain and catcher Erik Suarez.

Suarez still had many in the stands on Sunday buzzing after his heroics on Saturday when he hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to deliver a 7-6 walk-off win over top-seeded Rio Hondo, which was later eliminated by Southwestern (26-18). Just a week prior, Chris Stroh also delivered a walk-off hit in the opening round of the regionals to lead GCC over Cypress.

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