Story and photo by Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
College of the Canyons was able to hang on for a 9-7 conference victory over Citrus College on Saturday to close out its three-game set with Owls in victorious fashion.
COC sophomore Nick Henry drove home four runs on a 2-for-2 day that also included a walk and a run scored. His three-run double in the bottom of the sixth helped spur a big four-run inning for the Cougars, and ended up being the difference in the game after the Owls pushed across three late runs to keep things close.
Mehlbaum later came around to score on Nick Henry's first RBI of the game and the Cougars were ahead 4-0. He went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs and two RBIs.
Citrus (11-14-1, 7-4) finally crossed home plate after COC starter Alex Ravago exited the game after three innings of work. The sophomore walked four and struck out two but did not allow a hit.
COC reliever Devin Judge started the fourth and recorded an out before turning things over to Chase Marcoe who handled the next 2 and 1/3 innings. Judge (3-1) picked up the win for his efforts. He walked one, struck out one and was charged with a run.
Meanwhile, the Owls were able to rally for a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth to put the game at 5-4. But an RBI base-knock from Kyle Soberano and Nick Henry's three-run double quickly got Canyons back in front 9-4 after six.
Citrus continued its attack with a run in the eighth by way of a bases loaded walk, and two more in the ninth that prompted a series of pitching changes for the Cougars. COC reliever Cooper Everett started the final inning and recorded the first out but then allowed three-straight singles to load the bases.
Oskar Syren was inserted to try and shut things down for the Cougars and recorded one out, but not before Citrus had drawn to within two at 9-7, and had runners at second and third with two outs.
Eventually, COC starting backstop Nate Duarte shed his catching gear and headed to the mound to record the final out and pick up the save.
Canyons won the three-game series 2-1 by also taking the series opener 6-0 on Tuesday. COC fell 6-4 in Thursday's road tilt in Glendora, then bounced back to get the win on Saturday. COC and Citrus split the season series 2-2.
The Cougars remain three games back of conference leader Glendale College and one game back of second place Citrus.
COC will next begin a three-game set vs. the Vaqueros on Tuesday, April 2, with action then shifting back to Santa Clarita on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday in Glendale.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.