When the playoffs begin, the margin of error shrinks. The Pirate baseball team found that out the hard way Friday afternoon, as a pair of VC fielding errors led to three unanswered runs for visiting Long Beach in Ventura's 3-1 loss to the Vikings in Game 1 of the CCCAA SoCal Regional Playoff Series. Travis Weston took the hard-luck loss on the mound despite pitching 8.2 innings and allowing just five hits and no earned runs. Zane Chittenden had a pair of hist for VC (25-16) including a home run.
The Pirates fell behind early in Game 1 of the Best-of-3 series. In the top of the first inning with two outs and the bases loaded, a defensive error on a ground ball led to a Vikings score and a 1-0 deficit for the Pirates.
Offensively, VC had its first 13 batters retired before Junior Sandoval broke the ice with a single in the bottom of the fifth inning. In the sixth, TJ Foreman was hit by a pitch with two outs, and Gabe Baldovino singled to put runners on the corners before the side was retired.
The Pirates tied things up in the bottom of the seventh as Chittenden led off with a round-tripper to tie the score at 1-1.
Foreman had a 1-out double in the eighth, then advanced to third on a wild pitch, but the Pirates could not find the clutch hit to bring him home.
In the top of the ninth inning, a leadoff double led to runners on the corners with two outs for the Vikings. Another fielding error by VC led to two more Long Beach runs as Ventura entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 3-1.
The Pirates tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth. Chittenden and Sandoval had back-to-back singles to lead things off, but the clutch hit seemed elusive once again for the PIrates, as the fell by the score of 3-1.
Game 2 of the Best-of-3 series will be Saturday May 4 at 11:00 am at Pirate Park, with Game 3 immediately following, if necessary.