Dragons rally past Rancho

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Hail to Brennan Cole. Actually, it was more like hail on Brennan Cole.

Sonoma teammates lift Brennan Cole after his hit beat Rancho Cotate in a Westcott Tournament game on Monday. Photo by Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat

The Sonoma Valley sophomore pitcher had just taken a line drive off the back of the thigh in the sixth inning of the Dragons’ game against Rancho Cotate in the 14th annual Adam Westcott Memorial Tournament on Monday.

As he shook the leg loose and limped around the mound, it began to rain at the Cardinal Newman baseball field, where the tournament has been moved because of Newman’s drainable FieldTurf diamond.
And then it started to hail.

Sonoma coach Don Lyons ambled to the mound and asked Cole where he got hit. The pitcher told him.

“And then I said, ‘Do you want to try and throw?’ And he looked at me like ‘yeah.’ Like I’d asked him an inappropriate question.”

Cole took two more practice throws and continued his afternoon’s work. The lefty got out of the sixth, struck out two of three Rancho batters in the seventh, and capped a highly interesting day by singling home the winning run in the bottom of the seventh as Sonoma escaped with a 5-4 win.
Cole was far from dominating as he allowed seven hits and three earned runs over his seven innings. But he didn’t walk a batter, and he showed some grit for the second straight outing.
Cole had an 8-1 lead over Dublin on March 11 when the fielding behind him began to fall apart. (“We were leaking deisel,” as Lyons said.) But the sophomore didn’t waver, and the Dragons wound up winning 8-7.

The Sonoma defense wasn’t perfect Monday, but Cole never let that — or a couple of wild pitches on his part — bother him.

“Brennan’s got a lot of character,” Lyons said. “He’s a sophomore, and he doesn’t blame anybody. And he really doesn’t take credit, either. He’s got that humble mentality that you really need. It’s ‘give me the ball, I can get you an out, but if there’s a mistake behind me …’ You know what? As my pitching coach says, my pitcher then becomes a problem solver.”

Rancho went up 2-0 in the second inning. Sonoma fought back with one run in the third and two in the fourth, but the Cougars regained the lead, 4-3, with two runs in the fifth.
Dragons catcher Sam Morgan led off the bottom of the seventh with an infield single and advanced to second base on a groundout. Second baseman Will Rose then smacked an RBI single, stole second base and took third when reliever Tyler Sanders’ pickup attempt went into center field.

Cole followed with the game winner.
Sophomore Will Felton started for Rancho Cotate and went 3« innings. Sanders, a former starter working his way back from elbow surgery, retired the first five batters he faced in relief before getting into trouble in the final frame.

All in all, it was a fairly ragged game, what you might expect from two teams largely stranded by North Bay rains. Sonoma Valley had played only twice since March 5. Rancho was only marginally luckier.

“We had that good start. Now, we haven’t been on the field in a week and a half or so (before Monday),” Cougars coach John Morrow said. “We’re lucky to get cage time. The JC donated some turf we’ve laid out in our cages. We’re out there throwing muddy balls and all that.”
Until the Dragons’ seventh-inning heroics, the runs came in strange ways. Rancho Cotate (3-2-2) scored on a passed ball, a throwing error by the catcher, an RBI groundout and a wild pitch. Sonoma (3-2) scored on a wild pitch, Cole’s RBI double into the right-field corner and a fly ball that Cougars left fielder Gabe Gomez lost in the gray-black sky.

The Adam Westcott action continues through Thursday. Sonoma Valley next plays Ukiah today, and Rancho Cotate will face Casa Grande on Wednesday.

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.