By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
In a wild 16-12 win on Wednesday, the NBL season began fortuitously for Windsor in a game that had a lot of everything.
It wasn’t pretty but it was entertaining. The visiting Jaguars (3-6, 1-0) and the Panthers (2-9, 0-2) combined for 28 runs, of which 15 were unearned, 21 hits, 13 errors, 20 stranded baserunners, 10 pitchers, 17 strikeouts, 12 walks, six hit batsmen and plenty of gristle for both coaches to ruminate on postgame regarding the game and each team’s respective outlook for the NBL season.
“It was an ugly win, but I can’t complain,” first-year Windsor coach Corey Sunday said. “We are just trying to be consistent in every aspect of our game. We are working at it every day.”
Said fifth-year Santa Rosa coach Paige Dumont: “We are trying to put together seven strong innings in one game. We had fight at the beginning of the game and the end but the middle innings hurt us today.”
Santa Rosa jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning but Windsor answered with four runs in the second inning, two runs apiece in the third and fourth innings and then another four-spot in the fifth inning to take a 12-5 lead going into the sixth inning.
“We got back to our approach on hitting and we produced at the plate today,” Sunday said.
“We have trouble with the shutdown inning after we score,” Dumont said. “Windsor was swinging the bats well. They got the big hits with guys on base and we didn’t.”
The seventh inning capped the scoring explosion for both squads. The Jaguars extended their lead to 16-7 with four runs in the top of the inning but the Panthers countered with five in the bottom half to add some late drama before falling 16-12.
The offensive stars for the Jaguars were Frank Bastoni (3-5, double, 3 RBIs, 2 runs scored), Sam Penning (2-3, 4 RBIs, 1 run), and Justin Rosales (2-3, 3 runs, 3 stolen bases).
Santa Rosa was led in hitting by Shamus Lyons (2-4, double, 2 runs), Shamus Croft (2-4, 2 RBI) and Nate Turnipseed (3-4, 2 runs).
Santa Rosa’s Tyler Kelley took the loss after being chased after two innings. He gave up one earned run and five hits.
Windsor reliever Tanner Kane, just called up from the JV squad, earned the win in relief, pitching two innings, giving up two earned runs and three hits. Jaguars’ starter Andrew Begley got a no decision since he didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. Begley pitched 32/3 innings, giving up three earned runs and five hits.
“Begley started out slow but really battled and found a way to get it done,” Sunday said.
While neither Windsor nor Santa Rosa is considered a favorite in the NBL and both had tough preseasons record-wise against quality opponents, optimism still abounds.
“We have to put together a couple of good practices now,” Dumont said. “I don’t like making predictions but we have the talent to finish in the top half of the NBL.”
Regarding the Jaguars hopes, Sunday said: “I just want to build this team up. We want to make the NBL tournament and get into the NCS playoffs.”