Wave ends Fernley series in shutout
Fernley coach Jerry Torres was right after the last game when he said facing Fallon’s Alex Mendez would be like facing an entirely different team.
Mendez returned to the mound on Tuesday afternoon in the Greenwave’s last game of the series against the Vaqueros, along with Kendall Johnson, and pitched a 10-0 shutout.
Though Fernley (14-8 overall, 13-4 in DI-A) won the series two games to one, Fallon (15-8 overall, 12-6 DI-A) will head to Dayton with more confidence in its cast of pitchers. The Wave’s series against the Dust Devils begins today at 3 p.m. followed by a doubleheader Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
“We’ve got everybody healthy and that’s what we’ve been waiting for all year is to get everybody healthy and eligible,” said Fallon coach Lester de Braga. “We’ve still got a ways to go. Mendez, because he’s been out so long, has to get back in shape a little. But we’re proud and glad to have him back.”
Mendez and Vaqueros’ starting pitcher Brandon Hlade both pitched three scoreless innings to begin the game. Mendez relied less on variety in pitching and more on endurance with fastball after fastball until he struggled with Fernley’s batters in the top of the third, letting Giovanni Piroddi, Drake Howe and Stephen Emery load the bases for the Vaqueros off two singles and a walk.
The Wave’s infield picked up the slack. Cameron Beyer threw to Mike Porras and took out the lead runner at third (Piroddi) and Fallon turned over a double play when Fernley’s Jay King bunted right into Mendez feet. Mendez threw Howe out at home thereafter Fallon catcher Brock Uptain turned the double play to Clay Davison at first to take out King. Fernley left two runners on.
Hlade threw consistent strikes until the fourth inning when he began throwing inside and close and walked Fallon’s Jack Swisher along with two Fallon batters in the order behind him. Swisher scored the Wave’s first run of the game off a sacrifice pop fly by Mendez at bat. Mendez was thrown out at first which gave Swisher time to tag up and score.
Johnson took over for Mendez in the fifth inning since de Braga wanted to save Mendez’ arm for Dayton. Johnson kept the shutout going and pitched a no-hitter for the rest of his time on the mound. Fernley’s Jay King took over for Hlade in the fifth as well as for the beginning of the sixth inning.
“Brandon threw well today but I want him to pitch on Saturday so he had a pitch count,” Torres said on why he replaced his pitcher. “I thought King pitched very well too, he just didn’t have anything to show for it with all these ground balls everybody was kicking around today.”
The number of infield errors and wild pitches in the sixth inning made more of a difference than either team could anticipate, as did the absence of Fernley’s veteran second basemen Carlos McIntyre when the Wave’s batters woke up and scored seven runs in one inning.
The situation began with the Wave loading the bases due to walks and a few key singles through the second base gap by Cameron Beyer and Kyle Larsen. These RBIs scored Mendez and Uptain respectively, the first two runners in Fallon’s onslaught. Davison, followed by Fallon’s Will Bliss and Marshall Coverston each crossed home in response to missed grounders. Between these errors and King loading the bases, the Wave grabbed an 8-0 lead before the end of the sixth.
“Carlos has been out for a week since he got injured in a car accident after the Sparks tournament,” Torres said of McIntyre’s game changing absence in the sixth inning, “so it changes the dynamic of where guys play and how they play. He hasn’t made an error at second base all season. It’s tough to get around but it’s still a team and we’ve got to do something.”
Emery came in to replace King on the mound in the seventh inning. Fallon’s hitters loaded the bases before Beyer stepped up to bat again, knocking a two run RBI past second to score Mendez and Uptain scoring Fallon’s final runs.
“Cam’s been doing well for us this year when he stays fundamentally sound in the box,” de Braga said of Beyer’s batting. “He’s capable to hit well and that’s what he’s been doing, and he’s started feeding off of some of the kids in front of him (in the order). So it was a great inning and hopefully we can just continue.”
Johnson closed out the bottom of the seventh, striking out Fernley’s Sam Ramirez in four pitches before Fallon’s infield took over. Fallon’s Colton Coverston caught out Fernley’s Kyle Throckmorton off a slow grounder to first, cinching the Wave’s victory.
“Alex is a great pitcher and Johnson is right there with him in every aspect,” Torres said commending Fallon on the mound. “It’s not a big deal in the long scheme. If you’ve played long enough, you’re going to have a clunker. We’ve played well all season so I just put it in the rear view mirror. I’m not upset about this game.”
Torres added he was more than confident Fernley would come back, chalking the game up to bad luck and a solid Wave performance. He also said he expects to see Fallon in the playoffs, business as usual.
With Dayton up next in the Wave’s away games, de Braga said he doesn’t plan on changing anything with Fallon’s best cast back in business.
“We take whoever they put in front of us,” he said. “We won’t change anything as far as our game plan goes. We’ll do what we’ve been doing all year and hopefully continue to get better each game.”