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Wade, Schatz spark Vaqueros to eighth straight win, 5-4

Andrew Schatz drove this breaking ball over the left-field fence for a 2-run homer in the fifth. He's batting .458 in his last seven games to raise his average to .333. (Photo by Dave Loveton)
Andrew Schatz drove this breaking ball over the left-field fence for a 2-run homer in the fifth. He's batting .458 in his last seven games to raise his average to .333. (Photo by Dave Loveton)

Kyle Wade turned in his strongest start of the year and catcher Andrew Schatz belted his first home run as SBCC edged Cuesta 5-4 in a WSC North baseball game at Pershing Park.

It was the eighth straight win for the Vaqueros (12-7, 3-0), who moved into sole possession of first place in the six-team conference. They're also 8-0 at home this season. Cuesta fell to 7-13 and 2-1.

Wade, a 6-2 sophomore right-hander from Chino Hills, turned in his longest outing of the year, going six innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter.

The Vaqueros had been falling behind in the early innings of recent home games. John Jensen gave the Vaqueros a 1-0 lead in the first with an RBI single that brought in Joseph Hamilton.

"I felt like all the guys picked me up this week going into my start," said Wade. "That was a big thing for me, to come out and have a good first inning. I told coach (Tyler) Heil in the bullpen that I was going to get a 1-2-3 inning in the first and that's what happened."

SBCC took a 3-1 lead in the fifth when Wesley Ghan-Gibson singled up the middle and Schatz hit a two-run homer over the left-field fence. The Vaqueros have outscored their opponents 28-9 in the fifth inning this season.

"He threw a hanging breaking ball," said Schatz, a sophomore from Lafayette. "I just kept my hands back and was lucky enough to get underneath it and hit it out. Cuesta is a very competitive team and they're one of our big rivals in league. It's always fun when we play them.

"Wade did a great job on the mound today. I don't think other teams like playing here but we love it."

The Cougars scored a run in the sixth when Jeff Wilson reached on an infield error and scored on a double by Dante Peretti. Peretti (3-4, 2 RBIs) and Andrew Navigato had two doubles apiece.

Cuesta tied it 3-3 in the seventh off reliever Steven Elliott. Navigato led off with a double, was sacrificed to third and scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Trevor Wear.

The Vaqueros regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh, starting with singles by Blake Ogburn and Schatz (2-3, 2 RBIs, 2 runs). Two wild pitches by two pitchers allowed Ogburn to score and Schatz to reach third. Schatz scored on a sacrifice fly to deep center by pinch-hitter Zack Stockton off Cuesta's third pitcher, Cole Tucker, to boost the lead to 5-3.

Cuesta coach Bob Miller was thrown out of the game for arguing a strike call on the first pitch in the eighth inning. The Cougars cut the deficit to one in the eighth on a single by Peretti, a walk to Tyler Ryan and an RBI single by Robbie Silva off new pitcher Jake Keily.

Elliott improved to 6-0 with 1 2/3 innings of relief, giving up two runs on two hits. Keily got the last four outs for his first save, striking out the final two batters swinging.

"It was a close, tough game," said coach Jeff Walker. "Our league is going to be tough this year. Cuesta is a very proud program and historically successful. I'm sure they had this game circled on the calendar.

"That was Wade's best start. He set the tone early and pitched an excellent game. Schatz hit his first homer and that was significant because it changed what the pitcher was doing. He was scared the throw the slider a little bit after that and that's what we talk about, getting them to change what they like to do."

The Vaqueros will play their next two on the road – Tuesday at Cuesta and Thursday at Oxnard with both starting at 2:30 p.m.