Valley College’s six-run fifth inning helped the Monarchs come out victorious and expand their winning streak to six.
By Benjamin Royer, Sports Editor
Pasadena City College entered Monday’s contest hoisting a 10-game winning streak, but when the Lancers exited Monarch Field, they left with a new loss showcased on their record and a major statement made by the surging Monarchs.
Valley College baseball (21-11, 9-6 WSC South) is now on a winning streak of its own — up to six games — after defeating No. 8 Pasadena City College (25-8, 14-4 South Coast) by a score of 17-5. A six-run fifth inning from the Monarchs jumpstarted their second-highest scoring performance of the season and allowed Valley to swiftly secure an upset victory.
“We knew coming in — on paper — that was going to be the biggest game for us,” said coach Dave Mallas. “[Pasadena City] is winning their conference, it is a tough conference. It looked like it got out of hand, but they gave us some help. We just kept hitting and it seemed like our offense came back a little bit. It felt good, that was a big win.”
Freshman outfielder/pitcher Jackson Lapiner has done it all for the Monarchs in 2022. On Monday, he was tasked with starting on the mound against the Lancers, as well as being the designated hitter. The left-handed slugger’s bat was felt heavily during the affair as he hit 2-3 with a two-run home run in the sixth, walking three times and collecting four RBIs on the day.
After two innings of scoreless action between Valley and Pasadena City, hard contact against Lapiner allowed the visitors to inch ahead in the top of the third.
A hit-by-pitch and two doubles — one to right-center and the other to left — allowed the Lancers to take a 2-0 lead.
The Monarchs battled right back.
Back-to-back infield errors allowed freshman catcher Robert Velasco and freshman first baseman Tyler Olivas to reach scoring position. Pasadena City left-hander Chase Pederson struggled to find the strike zone after the runners reached — walking freshman shortstop Maddox Latta and then Lapiner with the bases loaded to push across a run, cutting the deficit to one.
Keeping Pasadena City scoreless for the fourth and fifth provided Valley a chance to jump ahead at any moment. In the bottom of the fifth, the Monarchs struck and struck mightily.
The inning began and ended with Velasco — the only Monarch who did not reach base in the frame — with six runs scored in between his at-bats to launch Valley ahead 7-2. Eight consecutive batters reached in the fifth as three Lancers' pitchers attempted to keep the Monarchs off the scoreboard, but instead, hit after hit allowed runs to score.
Lapiner, freshman third baseman Dorian Asher, freshman left fielder Elvis Park and freshman outfielder Yeonwon Jeong had RBI base hits in the frame, while Velasco finished off the inning with an RBI sacrifice fly.
Pasadena City responded with a bases-clearing double in the top of the sixth, cutting the Monarchs' lead to two, but Lapiner single-handedly replenished the lead. With one out and Latta on first, the power-hitting lefty launched his ninth home run of the season — the most in the WSC South — to put Valley ahead 9-5.
“It feels good, especially after starting on the mound today, it’s pretty cool. I only know one other person that can do that,” said Lapiner postgame about his home run, letting it be known he was joking. “[I am] just trying to do damage on pitches that I can do damage on. I got my pitch.”
Later in the frame, Asher scored on a wild pitch after reaching on a single, giving the Monarchs a five-run lead once again.
Valley put up a five-spot in the seventh, with freshman right fielder Joshua Wood scoring three of those runs on a single to left. The third run the Monarchs’ right fielder scored was on an error from Pasadena City’s left fielder.
In the eighth, Latta added on with an RBI single to left field and later in the inning, freshman pinch hitter Cody Ginolfi chopped an RBI infield single to make the lead 17-5.
The 12-run victory was the second over a ranked team this season, the first of which came against Folsom Lake in February.
The Monarchs will return to try and push their winning streak to seven Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. when they travel to Moorpark College.