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Photo by David Sanborn (CCCAA).
Photo by David Sanborn (CCCAA).

Comets finish season in Final Four

FOLSOM, CA (5/29/2022) -- Making only their third Final Four appearance in program history, and the first since 2015, Palomar College found themselves in an elimination game against host school Folsom Lake College. After dropping game one to top-ranked Ohlone College 11-5, the Comets were in a must-win situation.

After a slow start to their hitting attack on day one, the Comets showed discipline and patience at the plate to work full counts and make the Folsom pitchers throw strikes. Devlin Lindeman and Jack Sanders both walked to get runners on in the first inning. Bryson Hashimoto then singled to left field to score Lindeman. After Quincy Scott grounded out to advance the runners, Tanner Lappin had a sac fly to rightfield to score Sanders to take a 2-0 lead. The Comets tacked on another run in the second to jump out to a 3-0 lead.

After big innings by the Falcons, the Comets were down 7-3 and were still looking for a big inning of their own, one for which they've been famous for all season. It finally came in the sixth when their offense busted open to score seven runs to retake the lead. 

It started with a walk by Erik Larsen, then a single by Lindeman. Sanders reached on a fielder's choice, but the run came across and Lindeman was out at second. Sanders then stole second. Hashimoto singled to score Sanders. Pitching change for the Falcons. Hashimoto to second on a wild pitch. Scott reaches on a Falcon error, Hashimoto to third. With runners on the corners, Tanner Lappin walked. Another pitching change. Jackson Garrett singled up the middle to score Hashimoto and Scott. Caden Szuba in for Garrett. Szuba steals second. Kyle Harvey singles to the right side to score Szuba and Lappin. Batting around, Larsen walked again. Ethan Ellis then singled to score Harvey for the final run of the game. 

The Falcons responded with a 2-run blast to right field to close the gap to one. The Comet pitching staff held them to one run until the eighth when the Falcons sent another out of the park to tie the game at 10 each. The Falcons won on a walk-off in the ninth on a double. 

Ethan Sally was the starter for the game and through 3.1 innings pitched, he allowed six runs on four hits and recorded two strikeouts. But the story of the day was Blake Ignaciak. In two innings pitched, he allowed just two hits and one walked, but struck out five batters. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh, Ignaciak struck out the next three batters, two swinging and one looking, to retire the Falcons and keep the Comet's lead. Austin Schroeder entered the game in the eighth inning for his longest appearance of the season. In 1.2 innings pitched, he allowed two runs on three hits and struck out three Falcons. Behind the plate for the Comets all season was Lindeman. A complete workhorse for the Comets, Lindeman was a machine this weekend, blocking balls left and right to keep the opposing runners at bay. Lindeman caught for every game except one all season for the Comets. 

Palomar ends their season 37-13 overall. They were road warriors in the playoffs knocking off No. 12 Pasadena City College, No. 4 Santa Ana College, and No. 1 Saddleback College to reach the Final Four. They were the PCAC Champions with a 21-4 record, a title they wrapped up with a week and a half left to play in their conference schedule. They were also ranked in the top 25 all season long, and after jumping 13 spots from No. 23, they stayed in the top 15. 

For a season played with heavy hearts, they have a lot to be proud of. Congrats Comets on an outstanding season!