Streaking Petaluma blanks El Molino 11-0

By PETER FOURNIER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

PETALUMA — It wasn’t long ago — three weeks to be exact — that Petaluma’s prospects for the 2013 baseball season didn’t seem too bright with a 2-8 record.

Then the Trojans embarked on a five-game winning streak, the last four in Sonoma County League, and the latest an 11-0 clobbering of El Molino on Friday afternoon.

Petaluma’s first four victories of the streak came on the road, starting with a 7-2 win at Montgomery in the third-place game of the A.L. Rabinovitz Tournament in March; the highlight was a 4-1 victory at SCL power Sonoma Valley last Friday.

Trojans coach Paul Cochrun says it just took a little time.

“Going into the season, we didn’t have a lot of varsity experience,” he said. “You kind of get that month, month-and-a-half under your belt, and the coaches see what everybody can do and you go from there. Lately, knock on wood, we’ve been getting on a little roll.”

Turns out that Petaluma’s start is slightly deceiving. The Trojans lost four of those games by one run — to Maria Carrillo 1-0, Redwood 5-4, Casa Grande 5-4 and Dublin 7-6.

“We’re finding a way to put the pieces of the puzzles together so that we’re coming out of the top of these one-run games and just figuring how to play baseball the right way,” Cochrun said.

Petaluma has put the one-run losses in the rear-view mirror for now, winning its last five games by an average of eight runs. Three of the victories were by more than 11 runs, the first of those 14-4 at Healdsburg, the second an 11-0 drubbing of Elsie Allen, and the third Friday’s result.

“We’re putting in more effort,” Petaluma shortstop Blake Patrick said. “We’re hitting a lot better situationally. We’re getting those key hits with runners in scoring position. It’s all coming together right now.”

The Trojans didn’t waste time Friday, putting up five runs in the first inning and tacking on six more in the third. Patrick kicked things off with a lead-off triple in the first, and scored on Cameron Meyers’ groundout to short. Petaluma batted around, scoring four runs with two outs, Patrick driving in Hunter Williams in his second at-bat of the inning.

Cochrun called Patrick, a third-year varsity athlete, a “cage rat.”

“He thrives. He just loves to hit,” Cochrun said. “That’s something he would do 24/7. He’s gotten better and better at knowing his zone, recognizing the pitches very early and being able to square the ball up, and hit the ball on the barrel more times than not.”

Patrick said he sometimes heads down to the batting cages at 10 a.m., which is six hours before practice starts.

“I’ll do a workout, I’ll hit off the tee, I’ll have whoever is down there throw me pitches,” Patrick said. “My friends will come in there at 12 p.m. and we’ll just keep hitting in there until practice at 3 p.m. I love it. I think it’s the best.”

Petaluma plays at Heritage of Brentwood next Wednesday at 4 p.m.

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