Bartow’s Boys cannot reach home

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BUNTING TO FIRST — Justin DiStefano traces the ball with his eyes, hoping the bunt will get him to first base during SWC’s vicious game against Mesa College on Thursday.

The stunning start executed by the Gentlemen Jags during preseason is quickly fading in the shadow of the losing streak they have found themselves in now that league play has begun.

Facing the same challenges that plagued them last year, the Jag men cannot seem to hit the ball.

“We just don’t swing the bat, we just don’t hit,” said Coach Jerry Bartow. “We don’t play with any real sense of knowing what the game is about.”

The 6-4 loss against Mesa on Thursday highlighted Bartow’s frustrations.

Mesa scored early and hard with three runs in the second inning, one in the fifth and two in the sixth, leaving the Jags to play catch-up for the rest of the game.

But the batting staff had difficulty reaching home plate. Several times, loaded bases walked back to the dugout after disappointing third-outs.

By the bottom of the ninth, Jags were walking to bases and Bartow said he would rather the boys just swing.

“We haven’t got to the stage where we’re going to hit and play this game like it’s supposed to be played,” said Bartow. “Not once have we gotten up there and hit doubles, triples, out of the ballpark.”

Even the defense, normally in prime condition, was having difficulty making glove-ball contact. Outfielder Andy Swan missed a critical catch that Bartow said could have won the game and catcher Carlos Ochoa and pitcher Kiki Medina were not in sync with each other for the six innings they played.

Cody Sos and Luciano Reynoso relieved the freshmen in the seventh inning and Mesa remained off the scoreboard for the rest of the game.

Sophomore Stephen Johnson said despite the recent losses, he does not feel discouraged.

“We hit good one day and don’t pitch, and then we pitch well and don’t hit,” said Johnson. “Once we get it all together we’ll be all right. We’ve got the best players in the conference.”

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SLIDE — First baseman Andres Enriquez reaches to catch a pick-off ball as the Mesa runner slides back to the plate.

But the game saw more than bats and bunts. A Mesa batter was hit in the knee and had to be taken off the field and SWC outfielder Robert Archer was ejected from the game for hopping the dugout wall when a Jag runner collided with the Mesa catcher on the stretch to home.

Bartow said he and Archer might both have to sit out the next few games because of the episode, though no official ruling has been given.

Still, the club is hopeful that the rest of the season will pan out as planned.

“Baseball is a weird game,” said pitcher Thomas Padilla. “This is what you would consider a rough start. You just get in streaks like this where it’ll be rough but you got to just keep playing but and eventually it will swing your way again.”

SWC is third in the rankings for the Pacific Coast Conference with a 4-4 record.

The Jags beat Mesa in their final match on Friday, 6-0. They play San Diego City college at home on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

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