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San Jac Wins, Loses in Fall Doubleheader

Aaron+Bond+bats+in+the+second+game+against+Blinn+College+on+Oct.+19.+San+Jac+won+the+first+game+16-7%2C+but+fell+to+the+Buccaneers+in+the+second+round+5-0.
Aaron Bond bats in the second game against Blinn College on Oct. 19. San Jac won the first game 16-7, but fell to the Buccaneers in the second round 5-0.

Aaron Bond bats in the second game against Blinn College on Oct. 19. San Jac won the first game 16-7, but fell to the Buccaneers in the second round 5-0.

Abigail Ochoa/San Jacinto Times

Abigail Ochoa/San Jacinto Times

Aaron Bond bats in the second game against Blinn College on Oct. 19. San Jac won the first game 16-7, but fell to the Buccaneers in the second round 5-0.

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It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon at Andy Pettitte Park when the San Jacinto College Gators took on the Blinn Buccaneers for a fall season doubleheader. The Gators defeated the Buccaneers 16-7 in the first game but fell short in the second 5-0.

In the first inning, Blinn’s starting pitcher, Sammy Pleus, loaded the bases walking three hitters from the top of the lineup. Cleanup hitter Wyatt Cross caught a wild pitch off Pleus scoring Nathan Rabe from third base for the first run of the night. The cycle continued through the inning until the Gators led the Buccaneers 6-0 going into the second.

Returning Gator, Aaron Bond, said they used the pitcher’s struggle in the first inning to their benefit by making Blinn continuously pitch.

“We try to take our time, look for our pitch, and try to take advantage of it,” Bond said.

Furthermore, fellow returning player and starting pitcher Hunter McClellan stressed the importance of exploiting their opponent’s weak moments to maximize the advantage.

“When we have bases loaded,” McClellan said, “we always want to score multiple runs just to get us in the lead.”

During the Buccaneers first at bat, McClellan took control of the mound striking out Blinn with two outs and a player stranded on third.

“In the first inning I thought I threw a lot better,” he said, “But the second inning, I struggled a little bit.”

Blinn started to show a little fight in third and fifth innings when they loaded the bases against pitcher Donny Diaz, but the Gators held their lead. In situations like this, Bond said, they “try to work pitch by pitch…try to get a groundball and get out of there.”

In the second game, the Gators had a sluggish start giving up two runs in the fourth inning and three in the fifth.

Recruit Michael Smith attributed the change in momentum to the doubleheader, and the team still fine-tuning player positions.

“We haven’t gotten adjusted to playing back-to-back games,” Smith said. “We’re still transitioning and finding the right guys to put in the right places.”

Although only pre-season play for the Gators, Head Coach Tom Arrington said the fall games are a chance for new players to show their value to the team. The coaching staff has not yet made cuts for the final 2017 roster, and Arrington said the number of players they plan on keeping is still “undecided.” He further stressed, the fall season is more about the success of each player than the team as a whole and giving “everybody an equal opportunity to show us what they can do.”

“We’re trying to see what each player can contribute to their own skills and development, and show us what they can do, and then we work with them individually on that,” Arrington added.

However, many sophomore players graduated last season, and as a result, Arrington calls this a rebuilding year for the team where the coaching staff is evaluating the new players and the returners and “gauging them individually.”

On the other hand, Arrington said a number of “core returners” will anchor the roster including, “… Aaron Bond, Brett Wright behind the plate, Donny Diaz on the mound, Hunter McClellan, Jerry Maddox, Tanner Schuetz…”

Meanwhile, Bond and McClellan said they are excited about the upcoming season. Bond claims his time on the team has been “life changing,” while McClellan stated, “it’s been an awesome experience, it has changed my life for the better, and it’s been a lot of fun.” Both agreed the primary goal for the spring is to win the National Junior College Athletic Association Baseball World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado.

McClellan exclaimed, “We want to win our regional, then go back to Junction and then this year we want to win it all!” Bond agreed with him adding the team was one game short of winning last year, but they are “trying to finish it this year.”

More information on Gator baseball team’s spring season is available at http://www.sanjacsports.com/baseball/baseball-home.

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San Jac Wins, Loses in Fall Doubleheader