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Portee’s slam helps Vaqueros knock off El Camino 9-4

Aaron Portee crushed the first pitch he saw for a grand slam in the fifth inning, putting the Vaqueros ahead to stay at 5-2. (Photo by Dave Loveton)
Aaron Portee crushed the first pitch he saw for a grand slam in the fifth inning, putting the Vaqueros ahead to stay at 5-2. (Photo by Dave Loveton)

Aaron Portee delivered a grand slam homer on Wednesday during a seven-run fifth inning that carried SBCC past El Camino 9-4 in a baseball game at Pershing Park.

The Vaqueros (2-5), ranked No. 17 in Southern Cal, improved to 2-0 at home after dropping their last five on the road. They hit a grand slam for the second straight game. The No. 11 Warriors (8-1) suffered their first loss.

Cassius Hamm started for El Camino and he came in with some impressive credentials. He was 2-0 with an 0.64 ERA and was coming off a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts vs. Bakersfield. Hamm and Connor Brewster were locked in a pitcher's duel for the first four innings.

Brewster gave up a walk and a double to Hunter Lewis in the fifth. After a line-out to left, Brewster left the game with an injury and was replaced by left-hander Steven Elliott.

Leadoff hitter Trevor Casanova greeted him with a two-run single up the middle for a 2-0 lead.

Elliott (1-0) got the win, facing eight batters and allowing no runs on two hits with two strikeouts.

The Vaqueros struck back in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases on an error, a single by John Jensen and a walk. Griffin Hennessey drew a walk for an RBI that made it 2-1. The left-handed Portee followed with a high drive to right-center that went over near the 365-foot mark for a grand slam that put the Vaqueros ahead for good at 5-2.

"We weren't worried through the first four innings, even though he had us down a little bit," said Portee, a sophomore outfielder from Lumberton, N.J. "I just wanted to get something I could hit. I was looking fastball and that's what I got on the first pitch.

"It felt so good to see it go over the fence. I think our team's going to be good now. This could be the start of something big."

Tyler Rosen singled with two outs in the fifth and Nicholas Allman doubled to right-center to chase Hamm. He was replaced by left-hander Trevor Talpas. Jake Holton greeted him with a two-run single to right to stretch the lead to 7-2.

Hamm (2-1) gave up seven runs (four earned) on five hits with seven strikeouts and four walks in 4 2/3 innings. Brewster held the Warriors, who were averaging 8.6 runs a game, to two runs on three hits in 4 1/3 innings.

John Jensen went 2-3 for the Vaqueros and Jake Holton was 2-4 with two RBIs. Third baseman Hunter Lewis was 3-4 with a solo homer in the eighth for the Warriors.

After El Camino cut the deficit to three at 7-4, the Vaqueros loaded the bases with two out in the eighth on an error and walks to Hennessey and Joseph Hamilton. Michael Montpas and Hennessey scored unearned runs when the Warrior catcher threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt that sailed past the first baseman.

"We wanted to wait out their starter as long as we could and find some quality at-bats," said SBCC coach Jeff Walker. "His breaking ball is a plus-pitch, that's what he wants to throw. The more often you can get him to throw it, that makes his fastball command a little more difficult.

"We got a great effort from Brewster and he had to come out because he cramped up a little. That's a good win over a quality team. They were 8-0 for a reason."

The Vaqueros travel to West L.A. on Thursday for a 2 p.m. contest. Friday's game at El Camino has been moved to Saturday. The teams will square off on the turf field at East Los Angeles at 1 p.m.