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Merced College offense rescues ace

Brian Gilbertson isn't going to look back on Tuesday with fond memories. But the Merced College ace and his teammates learned something important.

Gilbertson doesn't need to be perfect for the Blue Devils to win games.

Heck, on Tuesday MC showed Gilbertson he doesn't always even need to pitch well.

Porterville used a couple long balls to build a 6-0 lead, but the Blue Devils picked up their starter.

MC answered with 10 runs and held on for a wild 10-9 victory.

"Offensive shootouts aren't really our style," MC coach Chris Pedretti said. "That was really Gilbertson's first poor start of the season.

"It was good to see the way we responded from being down 6-0, though.

"It's good for the guys to see we can fight back if we need to."

Gilbertson entered the contest with a 10-2 record and a 1.96 earned run average.

The sophomore's been so good for the Blue Devils (16-5 CVC, 29-9) this year, his struggles were actually an odder sight than the swarm of bees that briefly chased Porterville (10-10 CVC, 13-20) from its dugout before the start of the third inning.

The four innings marked Gilbertson's shortest start of the season and the six runs were the second-most he's surrendered in a game.

"It was a weird game," MC first baseman Andrew Bone said. "We don't need to score 10 runs to win too often."

MC needed every single one.

A three-run home run by Porterville's Anthony Rodriguez opened the scoring in the second.

A two-run bomb by Nicolas Figueroa in the fourth pushed Porterville's lead to 6-0.

MC stormed back with seven runs in the bottom half of the inning and three more in the fifth.

The Blue Devils accounted for 8 of their 11 hits in fourth and fifth innings, sending 18 batters to plate.

Bryan Abrey did the most damage with a three-run double and Bone capped the scoring with an RBI double of his own.

MC's bullpen flirted with disaster, but Brock Floro retired the last five batters to earn the save.

"We got excellent production from the bottom of the order today," Pedretti said. "They sparked the rally.

"That's a good sign heading into the playoffs."