By Kyle Foster
Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive
YOUNTVILLE-Every once in a while you face an opponent that just better than you. That was the case for Vintage when they lost 12-4 to Vacaville.
Vacaville (17-6 overall, 10-2 Monticello Empire League) opened up the game by scoring three runs in the top of the second. A Lenny Chadwick single brought in Cole Elvis who had singled and moved to second on a fielding error by Vintage left fielder Max Phipps. Later, a Noah McCoy double brought in TJ Smith who had walked along with Chadwick.
The Crushers’ (11-11, 6-6 MEL) fought back with four runs for their only lead of the game in the bottom of the third. A Cole Ridling double brought in Ronnie Porter who had doubled two batters earlier and moved to third on a Nolan Brown bunt single. Brown and Ridling came home when Jason Brandow lined a single back up the middle to center field. After Brandow stole second he scored on a Eli Wood single.
After Vintage scored all their runs the Bulldogs offense came to life. In the top of the fifth Vacaville took the lead that they wouldn’t relinquish from that point on. After Hunter Durraugh singled Michael Brown came up a launched a monster two-run homer that went at least 450 feet to right center.
Vintage coach Rich Anderson said that his teams biggest problem on the day was stranding baserunners.
“Yeah, so I guess the biggest problem for us offensively today is that we left a lot of runners on base where we had a chance to add on, and so that was probably the biggest criticism of the day, and then I thought we competed very well, when the Brown kid hit that home run that kinda took the wind out of our sails for about a inning, and I was telling out guys ‘guys we can’t let one big hit, you know kinda stop you from competing’, especially because it was a one-run game at that point,” he said of all the stranded runners.
In the top of the sixth Vacaville added two more runs. Bryce Begell hit a two-run that brought in McCoy who singled in the at-bat before him.
“And he went off the ball late in the game to left (in the seventh) — he’s got power to all fields, Bryce is a special player, and a special athlete, he’s got speed and power — it’s a great combination,” Vacaville coach Stu Clary said of Begell. “We’re going to miss him, he’s going to have a really great Pac-12 career, and possibly beyond. He does everything for us at shortstop, and in a way it’s funny to say to a guy about a guy that’s going to go play in the Pac-12, but I think he’s kinda overlooked a lot of times — he can really play. I felt he had a good case for being the league player of the year last year, he was an all-league guy, but he is along with Cole Elvis the two guys I would say that are the glue to our team, middle of our order, and he can really play.”
The Bulldogs’ salted the game away in the seventh by putting up a five spot.
Brandon Chalk got the win for Vacaville. He went all seven innings giving up four runs. He also walked seven and struck out four.
“Brandon is a really good pitcher. He’s a junior that’s only going to get better,” Clary said of his junior starter. “He can throw three pitches for strikes, he really had that offspeed stuff working today which is so important, and again he’s just come up big for us time after time this year, whether it’s out of the bullpen or starting a game.”
Eli Wood took the loss for Vintage. Over five innings of work the junior gave up five runs while walking two and striking out two.
The loss moves Vintage into third-place in the MEL standings, but by no means are they out of the playoff discussion. If Napa beats Rodriguez Thursday afternoon they would be in the playoffs. Vacaville who clinched the MEL crown with their win is in, but Napa would also clinch a playoff spot with a win Thursday. Vintage would need to just keep winning to clinch.
If Napa loses Thursday, and Vintage loses Thursday Vintage would be the odd team out and in a must-win situation next week.
“That was the charge for tomorrow’s practice,” Anderson said of how his team is still very much alive for making the playoffs. “Like ‘nobody better quit on themselves, quit on the season right now because we are right in the fight in the middle of this even though we have a really tough one on Thursday and then we have two tough ones next week — no one ever said this was going to be easy, so we still have it all right in front of us’.”