By Kyle Foster, photo courtesy of Don Lex (LuckyDuckImages.com)
Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive
You always want to get the first win of the season as quickly as possible. After losing to Benicia Friday the Napa High baseball team got their first win of the season in the back end of a back-to-back, 3-1, over the same Benicia team they had played the day before.
“Feels good, we’ve been waiting a while for this game since last season,” Napa senior pitcher/first baseman Andrew Raymond said of getting the first win of his senior campaign. “This is a good group of guys, small, but we’re going to fight till the end.”
“Yeah, you know yesterday I think we came out a little timid. We didn’t come out ready to compete and if you do that against a really good team like Benicia you’re going to end up with a backwards result than what you want,” Napa coach Todd Pridy explained of the game from a day earlier. “We had a talk after the game (Friday) and (the) guys responded today. We had a great starting outing from Raymond, great job by Omar (Gonzalez), and then Caden (Cortese) closed it out. You know you get a good pitching effort, you get enough offense you’re going to be alright, and that’s kind of what occured today.”
The game was pitchers duel with no score through the first two innings. In the bottom of the third Colton Maher led off the inning with a walk, and his younger brother Trent moved him up to second with a sacrifice bunt. A throwing error by Benicia pitcher Herbie Lane on a ground ball back to him scored Colton Maher.
In the bottom of the fourth the Indians (1-1) added two more runs. A one out Brandon Herter walk and steal of second started the rally. Charles Gravett’s single advanced Herter to third. Colton Maher drove in Herter with a groundout, and moved Gravett to second. With an 0-2 count to Trent Maher a Lane wild pitch moved Gravett to third, and Gravett scored on a error by the Panthers catcher.
The Panthers (1-1) got their only run in the top of the fifth when Dylan McCombe singled, and advanced to second on a Raymond wild pitch. A Joey Daini single moved McCombe to third. McCombe ended up scoring on a passed ball that got by Napa catcher Nathan Jessell.
The Indians had a chance to blow the game wide open in the bottom of the fifth. After Gonzalez singled, Jason Pridy walked, and Caden Cortese singled the bases were loaded, but the Napa would make three consecutive outs and blow their best run-scoring chance on the day.
“We had that scenario yesterday (Friday at Benicia) too, and we’ve got to get better,” Pridy explained of the bottom of the fifth. “We’ve got to be better in that situation and maybe that’s about all, we’ve got to be ready to rock n roll and cash in on big spots. In the first two games we’ve had a situation where we didn’t do that. We will get better at that because we’ll be intentional about that, guys don’t want to fail in that situation and we’re going to have more of those. It’s time to step up and take care of that opportunity when it presents itself.”
Raymond got the win. He struck out four and walked two. In 4 ⅓ innings of work he only gave up one earned run.
“Anybody who watches us throughout the season is going to see we’re going to have to pitch down, we going to have to pitch to spots, and we’re going to have to play good defense. We will get the occasional strikeout, and it’s no disrespect to our guys, it’s just I don’t think we’re going to have huge strikeout numbers,” Pridy explained. “But man once Andrew got real comfortable with that secondary pitch the secondary pitch being the curveball in the second time through the lineup it became very effective, and that’s really what kinda shifted his overall outing from being pretty good to being really good.”
“Yeah my fastball and curveball I was throwing those for strikes whenever I want, and then my changeup that’s the one pitch I’ve been working really hard on over the summer and I started commanding that really well and was throwing them for strikes, so I got the batters off balance and out front,” Raymond explained of his pitching.
Lane took the loss. In four innings pitched he walked three. He also gave up three runs, but only three of them were earned.
Cortese got the save striking out three in the top of the seventh. Gonzalez ended up earning a hold going 1 ⅓ innings giving up no runs.
Both teams will be back in action again next Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. Napa will host Sheldon of Sacramento, and Benicia will host Alhambra of Martinez.