Playoff hopes for American River College’s baseball team were nearly extinguished with its 15-7 loss at Diablo Valley College Thursday, as starting pitcher Tommy Balmain lasted only ⅔ of an inning immediately after being spotted a 2-0 lead.
The team is not completely eliminated from the playoff race, but still must win its game today in the regular season and series finale against DVC and is no longer in control of its own destiny.
If ARC wins today, it will be left to a committee decision by the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) whether or not it is selected over other schools for a playoff spot.
Balmain (4-5, 5.37 ERA) allowed five runs on only four hits before being pulled for Kirby Broadbent.
Broadbent was removed from the starting rotation three weeks ago due to struggles on the mound and ultimately had the same run and hit line as Balmain, though he lasted 5 ⅔ innings.
ARC got on the board in the first inning on an RBI single by first baseman Dalton Devries, the team’s best hitter of late, and scored again after left fielder Jimmy Lunardelli attempted to steal third base and then coasted home after the throw from DVC catcher Mark Castellucci sailed into the outfield.
DVC jumped on Balmain early and often, putting up five runs in the first inning and adding two more in the sixth after Broadbent came in.
Trailing 7-2 starting the seventh, ARC mounted a comeback, notching six straight hits to start the inning from the top of the order down without recording an out to cut the deficit to one.
The rally ended abruptly, however, as designated hitter Colton Freeman grounded into a double play and Devries attempted to score after the throw to first before being gunned down at the plate, resulting in a triple play.
DVC got the runs right back with a five-run seventh, and ARC did not score in the eighth after loading the bases with only one out.
Frustrations boiled over in the seventh for ARC, when DVC first baseman Atticus Soane was caught in a run down and called out by umpire David Baldwin before he appealed to plate umpire Gary Richelmier and changed the call.
In the confusion, ARC’s defense nearly ran off the field thinking the inning had ended, before the team’s coaching staff yelled for it to return to its positions.
ARC head coach Doug Jumelet immediately followed by coming out to argue the call, upset by the sudden change of heart.
Baldwin denied Jumelet’s accusation that he “changed his mind,” stating that he simply confirmed the ruling with Richelmier.
Jumelet did not agree and said “If you make a call, stick with it,” as he walked back to the dugout.
DVC took a 15-6 lead with three more runs in the eighth, and won the game after ARC pinch-hitter Matt Elliot struck out looking for the last out.
Jumelet declined to comment on the game and did not make players available.
The regular season ends with today’s matchup at ARC at 1 p.m.