Baseball: Casa Grande surges past Sonoma Valley 6-1


PETALUMA — Casa Grande’s baseball team is making a habit of coming from behind to win games.

When the Gauchos spotted Sonoma Valley a 1-0 lead Saturday in the championship of the Adam Westcott Memorial Tournament and wound up winning 6-1, it marked the fourth time in less than two weeks that Casa successfully staged a comeback.

On Friday, the tournament hosts trailed Cardinal Newman (2-1) and wound up winning, 4-3. Earlier in the month, they spotted Livermore a 5-0 lead and won 8-5. They did the same thing to Campolindo falling behind, 3-0, and winning, 9-3.

“These kind of games have given the team confidence,” said Anthony Bender, one of the hitting stars Saturday. “We feel we can always come through in clutch situations.”

Shortstop Bender had a perfect day at the expense of Sonoma pitching with two singles and a pair of walks.

The Gauchos wasted no time erasing Sonoma’s lead as they knotted the score in the bottom of the first.

It remained 1-1 until the fifth, when they scored two and then added three more runs in the sixth.

Casey Longaker opened the fifth inning with a walk.

Isiah Ayala’s sacrifice bunt got him to second and a wild pitch by starter Brennan Cole moved him to third.

Francis Christy and Bender then walked to load the bases. Nate Bills and Iggy Llorence followed with two more free passes to give the Gauchos a 3-1 advantage.

In the three-run sixth, Zack Shimek, Anthony Garatti, Christy and Llorence each had a single.

Starter Dominic Garihan and reliever Eric Parnow limited the Dragons to a half-dozen hits and the first-inning. Parnow, a sophomore, came on in the fifth and got the win.

The Gauchos banged out nine hits, including two each by Llorence and Bender. Llorence also had three RBIs.

Casa coach Paul Maytorena thought tying the score in the bottom of the first was big.

“The guys were a little down when Sonoma grabbed the lead,” he said. “When we came right back and scored, it picked up everyone’s confidence.

“We were patient at the plate, especially in the fifth inning. That’s a key for this group. Also, we’re finally starting to play good defense. I always tell the guys ‘take care of the ball and good things will happen.’ and they did that.”

Casa made one error while Sonoma was error-free.

The Gauchos will take a 9-1 record into their North Bay League opener on Wednesday at Maria Carrillo.

Sonoma coach Don Lyons said his team needs to be more aggressive pitching and at the plate.

“We didn’t seize our opportunities,” he said. “They were better than us today.”

The Dragons, 9-3, open Sonoma County League play on Tuesday at Analy. The Tigers are riding high after winning the A.L. Rabinovitz Tournament.

Casa Grande’s Matt Becker was selected the most valuable pitcher in the Westcott and Sonoma’s Jonah Son was picked as the hitting MVP.

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