07/03/2016 12:19 PM
Pasadena, CA --- The Arroyo Seco Saints needed a walk-off hit to erase a one run deficit against the Orange County Riptide that lasted throughout most of the game. Fortunately, their wishes were answered yesterday afternoon in the bottom of the 9th inning leading to a 3-2 victory.
Saints starter Race Gardiner yielded one earned run on a sacrifice fly by Portaro. But in the latter half of the inning Vetrovec allowed a RBI double by Thompson which scored the lead off batter who had walked.
The star of the game Tom Fuller made early contributions to his team by making an exceptionally strong throw under pressure to second base which forced Danny to be in a pickle for an easy put out. Plays such as these are proof of Fuller’s unmatched mental preparedness enabling him to anticipate his opponent’s manager.
It looked as though the Saints would establish a lead later in this inning. Briggs had a lead off walk and reached second base on Vetrovec’s wild pitch into the backstop. Manager Togeas called a bunt with Chase Aldridge batting, but after attempts that were fouled off, Aldridge would ground out to advance Briggs. But Fuller and Netz could not drive in Briggs, keeping the score tied at 1-1.
Manager Togeas had some dissatisfaction with his team’s record in situations where runners are in scoring positions. “We are still not executing quite like we like to. There is definitely a couple of runs we could of had that we didn’t get. That is usually the last thing to come with these guys. We can make that a lot easier on ourselves with runners on third and less than three outs, by putting the ball in play and getting that run home,” Togeas said.
Facing the top of the order for the second time, Gardiner had seemed to establish a feel for his pitches. The same batters that had given him a hard time in the first inning were retired in order. Vetrovec caught a lucky break on a bullet hit back to him to complete a double play which undid mistakes caused by two consecutive hit by pitches.
Manager Togeas believes this game could have gotten out of hand save for the Gardiner’s effective pitching. “We kept the score manageable due to our pitchers who kept us in the game,” said Togeas.
In the fifth inning, Fuller mate a great throw to catch the speedy Altavilla trying to steal second base. Gardiner would go five innings and allowed one earned run and four hits and not be credited with a decision. In the bottom of the inning, Fuller struck out looking on a disputed called third strike which might have made Manager Togeas gnaw his teeth in disdain.
In the sixth inning, Enzminger got into trouble and allowed a run after walking two batters and then allowing an earned run by Gneda on an RBI single, giving the Riptide a one-run lead.
Gilberto Hernandez relieved Enzminger and pitched well allowing no runs and no hits and earning a strikeout. He would be credited with the victory in the game by the official scorekeeper.
By the ninth inning, the Saints needed their relief pitching to hold the score, and that is what Max DeAmicis did, although with some surprises. De Amicis loaded the bases after allowing an two infield hits and a walk.
In the bottom of the ninth, the saving grace came as the Saints managed a hard single and two walks after making two quick outs. Fuller entered the batter’s box and confidently fouled off pitches and showed patience making the count full. On the next pitch he hit a line drive base-hit to left center field which won the game for the Saints, 3-2.
Fuller offered nothing but modesty and praise for his team’s ability to stay in the game to allow his game-winning hit.
“Our pitchers came out today and they threw great,” Fuller said.
He thought that Gardiner had good mechanics and execution, and that the relief pitching sealed the gap by preventing further damage.
It was almost as if Fuller wanted to be in this game-determining position like many clutch hitters in the Major Leagues.
“Guy gets me a three-two count, and I know he doesn’t want to walk me, so he gives me that fastball. So I just hunted for that, and luckily enough was able to get the barrel on it and win the game.”
The Saints play the Orange County Surf hoping that their starter Patrick Pena will provide adequate pitching to support the team’s bid for winning streak.