Baseball: Strong pitching propels Ukiah into tournament final

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Ukiah's Willi King tags out Montgomery's Lucas Buchmann at third in the bottom of the third inning Thursday at the A.L. Rabinovitz tournament in Santa Rosa. (Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat)

Ukiah’s Will King tags out Montgomery’s Lucas Buchmann at third in the bottom of the third inning Thursday at the A.L. Rabinovitz tournament in Santa Rosa. (Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat)

A pair of aces was a winning hand for Ukiah High’s baseball team.

Jeff Piver’s no-hitter and Adam Quiroga’s complete game pushed the Wildcats into today’s finals of the A.L. Rabinovitz Tournament at Montgomery.

Piver paced Ukiah by blanking Windsor in Thursday’s opening round. Quiroga pitched a complete game victory over Montgomery in the afternoon session.

The three-year starters lead a seasoned Ukiah squad hungry for the North Bay League playoffs.

Ending a three-year postseason drought also is on the Wildcats menu.

“Our team’s really coming together.

“We hope to string together some wins and finally get to the sections,” Piver said.

Another team pitching well is Analy. Yielding just one run in defeating both Northgate and Petaluma, the Tigers face Ukiah in the Rabinovitz championship game.

Third-place, consolation and seventh-place games also are set for today.

With teams playing three contests in two days, the tournament provides plenty of game action ahead of North Bay and Sonoma County league play opening next week.

In a preview of what should be a highly competitive North Bay League race, Ukiah broke out early against Montgomery and then matched the Vikings with stout defense for the 6-3 win.

Ukiah collected half of their eight hits in the first inning. The big blow was catcher Chandler Rickel’s two-strike, three-run double.

Piver also had a run-scoring single.

Pitching aggressively with the lead, Quiroga scattered five hits over seven innings.

He struck out a handful of Vikings batters with a mixture of curves and knee-high fastballs.

“It’s tough always trying to match Jeff. We feed off each other,” Quiroga said.

After a comeback win in the opener over Chico, the Montgomery Vikings couldn’t overcome the early deficit to Ukiah.

“We’ve had a few slow starts. We need better at-bats to score earlier in the game,” said Montgomery outfielder Jared LaBlue.

LaBlue collected a triple and a double in the loss to Ukiah, but sparked the Montgomery attack.

Pitching strong in relief to help keep Montgomery close was Anthony Prince.

Price is one of the many juniors back for the Vikings who are poised for a league championship bid.

The loss was the first in a strong start to the Vikings season.

“We just wanted to start off from where we had it at the end of last year,” LaBlue said. “We just want to keep the ball rolling.”

Ukiah also has worked hard in practice and over a busy non league schedule.

Earning a top half finish in the rugged, eight-team NBL is a challenge the Wildcats welcome.

“It’s been too long since Ukiah has been there,” Piver said. “So league’s our main priority right now.”

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.

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