Chris Pedretti got what he was looking for.
The Merced College baseball coach loaded the Blue Devils nonconference schedule with a number of talented teams, hoping the close competition would leave his squad battle tested come playoff time.
Thursday afternoon's contest with College of Marin provided one of those high-pressure situations Pedretti coveted.
Unfortunately, MC couldn't respond to it.
The bullpen imploded, allowing four runs in the eighth inning and the Blue Devils left 10 runners on base as Marin stole a 5-3 road victory.
"This isn't high school baseball anymore," MC starting pitcher Cameron Martin said. "In college most games are won and lost in the last two innings.
"This is the second time that we've let one get away like that and guys have to learn it's never over."
Martin struggled to find his command on a cold afternoon, but still managed to gut out a solid effort.
Martin limited Marin (2-2) to one run on two hits and struck out six in six complete innings.
He exited with a 3-1 lead, but MC's usually reliable bullpen couldn't make it stand up.
Freshmen Nick Bernardi, Sean Fasig, Ryan Caraveo and Brian Carbaugh combined to give up four runs on three hits and four walks in the eighth inning.
Fasig and Caraveo walking in the tying and go-ahead runs was particularly frustrating for Pedretti.
"That's a situation that you expect your guys to come in and at least make the other team put the ball in play," Pedretti said. "The biggest difference in the game was that (Marin) was disciplined and laid off of the boderline pitches and we chased."
The Blue Devils (4-2) started the game well offensively, hitting through the order in the first inning.
Jason Hague and John Canepa opened the inning with consecutive bunt singles and Hunter Adrian drove in the game's first run with a line drive to right.
Aarason Perry added a sacrifice fly and Ruben Perez an RBI single as MC took a 3-0 lead.
Runs were a little tougher to come by after that.
Marin pitchers Kory Wallace and James Nagel combined to hold MC 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position the rest of the way.
"It seems like we've gotten too complacent a few times when we've come out swinging early and then we've gotten quiet," Martin said. "It isn't easy to just turn it back on at the end of the game when you need to."
COLLEGE OF MARIN 5,
MERCED COLLEGE 3
At Merced College
Marin 001 000 040 -- 5 5 4
Merced 300 000 000 -- 3 10 0
Kory Wallace, James Nagel (8) and Mike Stone. Cameron Martin, Nick Bernardi (7), Sean Fasig (8), Ryan Caraveo (8), Brian Carbaugh (8) and Travis Anderson. WP -- Nagel. LP -- Bernardi 0-2.
MARIN -- Travis Senhaux 2-5 (2 RBI).
MERCED -- Hunter Adrian 2-5 (RBI), Ruben Perez 2-3 (RBI), Kori Melo 2B.
Records: Marin 2-2; Merced College 4-2.