After climbing into first place in the Western State Conference North Division with a dramatic 6-5 walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth at home against Santa Barbara City College, the Hancock College baseball team finished its regular season Friday by falling out of first.
A Hancock rally at Ventura fell short, and the Pirates (16-23, 11-12) finished with a 10-7 win over the Bulldogs.
Hancock (27-13, 16-8) will finish in a tie for first place with Santa Barbara and Cuesta if both lose their regular season finales Saturday. If one of them loses and one of them wins, the Bulldogs will finish in a tie for second with the loser. If they both win, Hancock will finish in third by itself.
Down 10-3 Friday, the Bulldogs scored four runs in the eighth, on a Niko Pecskovski single, a Jeremy Camarena sacrifice fly, an Elijah Bobo double and an Isaiah Hernandez ground out. Ventura closer Livio Bundi blanked the Bulldogs on one hit in the ninth to earn his fifth save of the year.
The Pirates bolted to a 5-0 lead with four runs in the second off Bulldogs starter Nate Wenzel (4-4) and never looked back. Three of the runs against Wenzel were earned. The Bulldogs made five errors. Ventura starter Cooper Smith (5-6) went seven innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on eight hits to get the win.
Though they have a solid record, the Bulldogs' playoff prospects are up in the air. Playoff pairings are due out next week.
Kenny Cress is a sports reporter for the Santa Maria Times, covering local sports in northern Santa Barbara County. You can send information or story ideas to him by emailing it to KCress@SantaMariaTimes.com.