NCS baseball: Analy’s Garrett Hill leads Tigers to 2-0 win

By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

SEBASTOPOL — In a sterling performance, Analy starting pitcher Garrett Hill struck out 12 batters and surrendered only two hits en route to a complete game shutout in Tuesday’s 2-0 Tigers’ win over visiting Hercules in a first round CIF North Coast Section Division 3 baseball playoff game.

“I was just trying to throw strikes. Towards the end I got my curve ball working,” Hill said. “It’s a big win, we get to move on, which is all I wanted.”

Third-seeded Analy’s solid defense and timely clutch hitting in the late innings coupled with Hill’s masterpiece garnered the victory. Friday at 4 p.m. the Tigers (21-5) will host the winner of the No. 6 Alhambra/No. 11 Novato first round game. Novato defeated visiting Analy 5-1 in the pre-season.

“Hill (W, 9-0) has been our guy all year,” Analy coach Jeff Ogston said. “He does a great job putting up the zeros for us. He typically gets better as the game goes on. He closes well.”

Despite the win, all was not right with the Tigers against the No. 14 Titans (18-7). Analy base-runners got picked off three times by Hercules pitcher Christian Sadler. The base-running gaffes took the wind out of several Analy rallies.

“It was bad,” Ogston said. “It’s something we definitely have to clean up. You can’t keep doing that in the playoffs and get away with it.”

The first five innings showcased a scoreless pitching duel between Hill and Sadler, who was effective riddling the Tigers hitters with deceptive off-speed pitches to enhance an average fastball. Sadler, who took the loss, gave up two runs in six innings and had six strikeouts.

“He (Sadler) did a great job and mixed up his pitches,” Ogston said. “You have got to tip your hat to him.”

With the game scoreless with two outs in the top of the third, Hercules’ Justin Mahley tried to score from second on an Analy infield throwing error at first base.

Alert Tigers right-fielder Jacob McKnight backed up the play and threw a strike to catcher Grant St. Martin in a bang-bang play at the plate to cut down Mahley to preserve the tie.

“Grant had to catch it and get his knee down,” Ogston said. “It was text-book — Grant took away the inner-half of the plate and forced him (Mahley) outside. It looked like he slid right into Grant’s shin-guard.”

Analy — which won the Sonoma County League regular season with an undefeated season — broke through in the fifth inning with a solo run on a two-out single by McKnight to drive in Joaquin Meckler-Pacheco, who walked leading off the inning.

“McKnight came up with a big two-out knock,” Ogston said. “He just steps up when we need him.”

Analy added an insurance run in the sixth for a 2-0 lead. Ricky Thokle-Sample led off with a triple and scored two batters later as pinch-hitter Kyle Earley singled through a drawn-in Titans infield to plate the run.

“That was a big insurance run,” Hill said. “Having a two-run lead is a big difference over one run (lead).”

Hill sandwiched a single by Sadler between three strike-outs in the seventh inning to wrap-up the win.

“He (Hill) was exceptional. He kept us off-balance,” Hercules coach Gerald Montgomery said. “Analy is fundamentally sound on defense. You are going to have to hit the ball to beat them.”

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