FOLSOM - For the first time in 15 years, the Riverside City College Tigers have returned to the top of the California Community College mountain after hanging on for a 10-8 win over Folsom Lake on Monday in the championship game of the 2022 CCCAA Baseball State Championship at The Lake.
The Tigers (38-12) claimed their fifth state title in team history and it was one of the hardest to obtain against a powerhouse FLC Falcon team in its first-ever state championship appearance.
Much like the first matchup on Saturday, a late Falcons’ lead was swallowed up by a monster eighth inning by the Tigers.
Trailing 7-5 in the bottom of the eighth, the “host” Tigers picked up a clutch 2-run double off the bat of Sebastian Flores to tie the championship at 7. Two batters later, Matthew Bardowell showed why he was the Orange Empire Conference Player of the Year when he untied the game with a run-scoring single to left, which brought home Flores.
Pinch-hitter Adrian Arechiga picked up some much-needed insurance runs for RCC with a two-run single up the middle that scored Bardowell and Igancio Alvarez on the play.
Albert Roblez picked a great time to collect his first save of the season, closing out the ninth inning while allowing one unearned run on two hits with two strikeouts.
In a weekend where offense dominated play, the championship final lived up to the hype. Riverside reached double-figures in all three games it played and on Monday, the big bats in the middle of the order didn’t disappoint on the biggest stage.
Bardowell finished 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBI for the Tigers, while Flores contributed a 1-for-5 effort with two runs and two RBI. Ten different Tiger batters collected hits and eight different Tigers scored runs to highlight the depth of the lineup.
For the Falcons, a season to remember came up two wins short of their final objective, but it’s definitely a season that the program can build on for years to come. Khale Good went 3-for-4 with two runs and one RBI, while Chase St. Amand added two hits, a run scored and an RBI.
Julian Alvarez was named the tournament’s MVP after a steady run against the best teams in the state. Through three games, the centerfielder went 5-for-10 with three runs, including a double, two HBPs and several game-saving plays on defense.
Hayden Coon (4-2) collected the win in relief, allowing just one run on two hits over 1 2/3 innings.
With the win, the Orange Empire Conference has now won 17 state titles over the past 31 years of state championship competition.
(Tony Altobelli, CCCSIA)