Balmain dominant as ARC pushes for playoff spot


Alex Panasenko

American River College's baseball team celebrates a victory against Sierra College on Thursday. ARC won the game 7-1, earning its third straight victory.

Matthew Peirson and Matthew Peirson

American River College first baseman Dalton Devries was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored Thursday, leading the team’s offensive charge in a 7-1 win against Sierra College in which five players amassed at least one RBI for ARC.

The team is fighting for a playoff spot, and can better position itself if it wins the remaining games scheduled.

It was ARC’s third straight win and another dominant performance on the mound, with Mikey Ramirez going seven frames on Saturday and Matt Gunter 8 ⅓ Tuesday.

ARC starting pitcher Tommy Balmain (4-4, 4.66 ERA) allowed four hits and one run in eight innings while striking out five.

Pitching coach Preston Vancil felt that the recent success of the starters can be attributed to them going back to the basics.

“They’ve kind of gone back to what they were doing to be successful earlier in the year … throwing strikes,” he said. “If you don’t walk people, you’re going to be successful.”

ARC starting pitcher went eight innings in Thursday's win vs. Sierra. It was the third straight game the starting pitcher had gone at least seven innings.
ARC starting pitcher Tommy Balmain went eight innings in Thursday’s win vs. Sierra. It was the third straight game the starting pitcher had gone at least seven innings.

Starting catcher Bryan Babcock said the pitchers’ success has rubbed off on the rest of the team.

“It makes it easier,” said Babcock. “Once they start believing in their pitches and executing it, it makes it easier to believe in them.”

After Balmain allowed Sierra’s lone run in the first inning, ARC took the lead in the third on RBI singles by second baseman Cameron Bennett and right fielder Alex Gaskin.

ARC put up four runs in the sixth, including back-to-back triples by Devries and left fielder Jimmy Lunardelli.

Lunardelli’s triple was his seventh of the season, the most by any player in the state this season.

“Everyone on the entire team can hit, and it’s just guys rising,” said Lunardelli. “When (our players) get a chance, they’re coming through for us.”

Devries, ARC’s most consistent offensive threat this season, agreed with his teammate.

“Everybody just wants to really win right now. We’re all hungry for the playoffs,” said Devries on the offense. “Everyone’s just trying to catch fire and carry it to the end of the season.”

If the team is able to win today’s game at Sierra and sweep its series next week against last place Diablo Valley College, it has about a 90 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to head coach Doug Jumelet.

Winning four out of the remaining five games would require the help of other teams, but not automatically eliminate ARC from the playoff race.

“I just want to put it all on the line,” said Devries. “I just want to win, and really focus.”