SCL baseball: Sonoma Valley clears hurdle in win

CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat Sonoma Valley's Jaxson Strong takes the throw to second base during Tuesday's game against Piner.

CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat
Sonoma Valley’s Jaxson Strong takes the throw to second base during Tuesday’s game against Piner.

By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

After losing its first two Sonoma County League games, the Dragons were at a critical early-season juncture going in to Tuesday’s league match-up versus the rejuvenated Prospectors.

Sonoma Valley (10-5, 1-2) cleared the hurdle, defeating host Piner 4-1 for its first SCL win. On the contrary, it was the first league loss for Piner (11-3, 2-1).

“We got our first league win, which is real big,” Sonoma coach Don Lyons said. “We are working hard and trying to translate practice (execution) into game (execution).”

The Dragons wasted little time getting to Piner starter Domenic Grillo , loading the bases on three singles by their first three batters. Sonoma eventually scored on a past-ball and an RBI-single by Jonah Son to take a 2-0 lead.

“Grillo (five innings, eight hits, one earned run) wasn’t locating his pitches,” Piner coach Nick Green said. “We were very lucky to get out of the first inning with only two runs scored.”

The Dragons tacked on an unearned insurance run in the third inning after two singles and a throwing error by Piner’s second baseman for a 3-0 Sonoma Lead.

“We got to them (Piner) early, which is what we wanted,” Lyons said. “Piner is new to the league so we didn’t know what to expect.”

Sonoma’s starter, Jimmy Flatt was in control the entire way, pitching a complete game on 102 pitches, surrendering only four hits in seven innings.

“My fastballs and cutters were working. I didn’t need to use my off-speed pitches much,” Flatt said. “I just tried staying on top of them (Piner batters) and to apply the pressure.”

Flatt worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the Piner fourth inning unscathed by getting the Prospector’s Grant Wingett to hit a short fly-out and Ian Carpenter to ground out.

“Once again we failed to execute at the dish,” Green said. “It’s frustrating for us.”

Sonoma took a 4-0 lead after a solo run in the sixth inning, which featured two walks, a sacrifice bunt, a stolen base and two singles. The run came via an RBI fielder’s choice on a line-drive smash into left-field by Dan Deely that was hit so hard that the Piner defense was able to force a Dragons’ runner at second base.

Piner finally got on the scoreboard courtesy of shoddy fielding by the Dragons in the Prospector’s sixth inning. A throwing error by Sonoma’s shortstop and a fielding error by the second baseman ended with an unearned run for Piner. Flatt, however, was able to buckle down and put out the fire before a genuine Piner rally was able to ignite.

“He (Flatt) doesn’t show it when his defense makes errors,” Lyons said. “Jimmy is very good under pressure. Things don’t rattle him and he stays strong.”

Lyons said he was happy for Flatt that he was able to ring up the victory.

“Jimmy has been a hard luck pitcher lately,” Lyons said. “We haven’t been finishing games during his starts.”

For the Prospectors, the best-case scenario from the loss is that it is a mere bump in the road in a thus-far very successful season. “We had no big hits (today) and had trouble picking up signs,” Green said. “It just wasn’t our day.”

 

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