Shorthanded Jags win conference, lose in playoffs

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Scoring runs has been the bane of Southwestern College’s baseball team all season, but it was their shoddy glovework that cost the Jaguars their final game in the Pacific Coast Conference regular season. But even though they lost the final game against Palomar College, the Gentlemen Jags still brought home the championship and the opportunity to host the first round of playoffs at Jaguar Junction against El Camino College.

Normally very solid on the defensive, the Jags came down with a bad case of fumblitis for their final games of the season. Infielders and outfielders missed corn-can catches and fumbled, dropped, kicked and missed the ball on numerous occasions. Even ace pitcher Patrick McGrath was giving away bases like free puppies.

Right fielder Andy Swan and first baseman Andres Enriquez were suspended prior to the playoffs, leaving defensive holes that were difficult to fill.

Coach Jerry Bartow said he believes losing Enriquez, his only true first baseman, explained the team’s poor performance at playoffs.

“We lost Enriquez,” he said. “We really could have used him. That and we just didn’t swing the bat.”

First base is an integral defensive position which handles the ball frequently.

“Enriquez was over there all year,” said catcher Cody Sos. “I got used to him. He played real good defense for us.”

Designated hitter Stephen Johnson was put on first as Enriquez’s replacement, even though he rarely played in the field during the season.

“I’m doing the best I can,” said Johnson, who had trouble with the glove for most of the game. “We could have used Enriquez, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

In game one of the playoffs El Camino scored eight runs before many of the fans had a chance to sit down and never looked back. SWC scored six runs to make it close.

“We’ve been giving away a lot of games because of errors and stupid mistakes,” said Johnson before their final game against El Camino.

Game two was more of the same. More errors. Fewer runs. The Gentlemen Jags hung up their cleats with a 4-1 loss and staggered away from the rollercoaster season.

Despite their playoff exit, the Jaguars brought home some hardware.

Sos, McGrath and infielder Francisco Gonzalez were named first team All-Pacific Coast Conference. Pitcher Kiki Medina and outfielder James Billburg received honorable mentions. Bartow was named Co-Coach of the Year.

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