The Pirate baseball team dropped a wild 15-13 decision to visiting Santa Barbara Friday afternoon, but remained within a game of the first place Vaqueros in a Western State Conference race that has five teams bunched within one game of each other. Eric Thrower was 3-3 at the plate with two runs scored and four runs batted in while Chris McKee was 2-4 with a pair of runs scored and four RBI for Ventura (17-17, 7-7).
After giving up three runs in the top of the first inning, the Pirates came back with one in the bottom of the frame and three more in the second. TJ Foreman led off the first inning with a triple, then scored on a wild pitch to pull VC back to within 3-1. In the second, Thrower had a sacrifice fly to score Shane Gipson, JT Heade score don a balk, and Foreman singled in Chris McKee.
SBCC retook the lead with a two-run third inning before Ventura scored four times in the bottom of the inning. In the third, Rudy Aguilar led off with a single and advanced to second on an error. One Out later, he moved to third on a wild pitch. Gipson and Heade followed with back-to-back walks to load the bases, and after the second out, Thrower had a two-RBI single. McKee followed with another two-RBI single and the Pirates took an 8-5 advantage.
Santa Barbara tied things up with three runs in the top of the fourth, and McKee grounded out to score Heade in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 9-8 for the Pirates.
The Vaqueros took control of the game with a four-run seventh and they added another score in the eighth. With the Pirates trailing 13-9, McKee doubled in Thrower in the eighth and Dayton Provost followed with an RBI single to halve the deficit.
The Vaqueros scored a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth, and they needed them as the Pirates never quit, scoring twice in the last of the ninth. Gipson had a one-out solo home run, then Thrower had a two-out single to score pinch runner Tommy Gibbons-Matsuyama to set the 15-13 final.
Provost and Foreman each had two hits with an RBI while Gipson scored three runs in the game.
Despite the loss, the Pirates remain in the thick of the WSC race. They are a game back of conference-leading SBCC and tied for third place with Hancock and Cuesta, with a trip to San Luis Obispo to battle the Cougars next on the schedule. The Pirates play at Cuesta on Saturday April 14 in a 1:00 pm game.