Sun Devils hold on for wild victory
Welcome to the Joe DiMaggio World Series where reality almost ceases to exist and the impossible is never out of the question.
After coming within a foot or two of a crushing, heartbreaking loss, the Sierra Sun Devils came up with the defensive play of the game that kept them alive in the tournament on a day in which they made six errors, no less. Then the Tri-County Gamblers sent a message by building a 14-2 lead against San Bruno, Calif., only to see San Bruno almost pull off an improbable comeback.
When the field turf at John L. Harvey Field had settled, the Dust Devils had come away with a 10-9 win against the Galena Spartans, staying alive in the tournament and eliminating the Spartans. Tri-County then barely held off San Bruno’s attempt at miracle comeback, holding on for a 14-12 win.
In Sunday’s other game, San Carlos, Calif., stayed alive in the tournament by beating San Francisco’s Trinity Maintenance 11-1, eliminating Trinity in the process.
In today’s game, San Carlos and the Sun Devils will play in an elimination game at 10 a.m. at John L. Harvey Field. The winner of that game will face San Bruno at 12:45 p.m. for the right to advance to Tuesday’s championship round against Tri-County.
The fun really began in the bottom of the seventh inning in the Sun Devils-Tri County game with the Sun Devils clinging to a 10-9 lead. Jeffrey Fisher-Gasper came on to nail down the win for the Sun Devils after after retiring the first batter, he allowed a single to Eric Underwood.
Brian Poynter followed with a shot off the 390-foot sign in right center field that came a foot or two of going over the fence for a walk off, game-winning two-run home run. Underwood tried to score from first, but center fielder Niko Saladis threw a perfect strike to shortstop Stephen Yarrow, who threw a perfect strike to catcher Roman Davis, who tagged Underwood out.
After Gasper hit Pete Lazzari with a pitch, he got Eric Maupin to pop out to end the game and pick up the save.
“Niko’s done that all year for us,” said Sun Devils manager Nick Royle about Saladis’ solid play. “It took a throw and a catch and another thron and a catch and a tag to make that out.”
Galena can’t be blamed for sending Underwood it took a virtually perfect play to cut him down at the plate. “You’ve got to send that guy,” Royle said.
Ironically, Poynter has taken hitting lessons from former Sun Devils manager Nick Kuster.
“When he hit the ball, we were screaming ‘get down, get down,'” Royle said. “That’s clutch. He got a big hit.”
In the top of the seventh, the Sun Devils looked like they were going to extend the lead when Jordan Hadlockw was hit by a pitch and stole second. Yarrow followed by sending a shot up the middle, but shortstop Pete Lazzari made a diving stop.
While Yarrow reached on an infield single, Lazzari’s play was huge because it kept Hadlock, who would’ve scored, at third. With runners at first and third and no outs, David Leid was a victim of bad luck when he hit a rope that Jake Hess caught at third.
Hess then doubled up Yarrow at first and Matt Evans went on to pitch out of the inning. After the Sun Devils took a 7-0 lead in the first, Evans was able to keep Galena in the game, allowing three runs over the last 6.1 innings.
Cory Yoder pitched five innings for the win. Royle said Yoder was solid, considering the six errors that were made behind him.
Saladis’ three-run triple gave the Sun Devils a 7-0 lead. Saladis had two hits in the inning as he led off the game with a double.
Lazzari hit an RBI triple that cut the deficit to 8-4 in the second, Cory Eilers hit a two-run triple to give the Sun Devils a 10-4 lead in the third. But Underwood answered with a grand slam home run in the bottom of the third that cut the deficit to 10-8 and the Spartans scored an unearned run in the fifth to close to within 10-9.
Saladis had three hits, Phil Mannelly also had three hits, including a double and a triple, and Eilers had two hits for the Sun Devils. Underwood had three hits and Lazzari had two hits for the Spartans.
Royle expects a far different game today from the one in which the Sun Devils opened the tournament with a 12-4 win over San Carlos. “It should be another great game,” Royle said.
TRI-COUNTY 14, SAN BRUNO 12
After Greg Gonzalez hit a two-run home run for San Bruno in the bottom of the seventh to make it 14-4, an error kept San Bruno alive.
Down to his last strike with two outs, Mike Watkins hit an RBI double to make it 14-5. Kevin Daniele followed with an RBI single and after Jesse Orozco singled and Eric Herrera was hit by a pitch, Lucas Hagsberg followed with an RBI double to make it 14-8.
Jimmy Parque hit a two-run double and Gonzalez belted an RBI double to make it 14-11. Ricky Molina came up as the tying run and after he was down to his last strike, he singled to keep San Bruno alive.
Then a run scored on a groundball when the throw to second was too high to force Molina to make it 14-12. With the winning run at the plate, Kris Cole got a strikeout to end the game. Cole pitched a complete game for the win and ended up allowing four earned runs.
Cole also hit a three-run home run in the top of the seventh that gave Tri-County a 14-2 lead. Tri-County broke open the game by scoring seven runs in the sixth to take a 10-1 lead with Michael Gleason’s grand slam home run being the big blow in the inning.
Karl Olsen had four hits, Brock Neil had three hits, including a double, Gleason, Alex Thomson and Nick Hedrick all had two hits, Cole also had a double for two hits and Ray McIntire had two hits, including a double for Tri-County.
Watkins, Gonzalez and Daniele all had two hits for San Bruno. Tri-County is still in good shape for the championship round as Thomson, who was the winning pitcher in Tri-County’s opening game on Friday, would be a definite candidate to start on Tuesday.
SAN CARLOS 11, TRINITY 1
Brant Norlander struck out seven and allowed one run on three hits over five innings to pick up the win. Ben Edelstein and Tony Leoffler each had three hits and Kenny Turner and Jarrod Hopper each had two hits for San Carlos. Dan Brown had two hits for Trinity.