Alton masterful, Dragons catch first-place Petaluma behind senior’s 3-hit shutout, 2 RBIs, host Jags tonight
Shortstop Chris Swanson tags out a Trojan runner trying to reach second-base after an errant throw down the right-field line that Sonoma’s Sean Daly fielded and threw a laser-strike for the key out during the Dragons’ SCL victory over defending champion Petaluma Tuesday night at Arnold Field.
With a chance to either pull into a first-place tie in the Sonoma County League, or fall two games back in the standings halfway through the 12-game SCL season, the Sonoma Valley High School varsity baseball boys turned to their senior mound ace, Sam Alton, who came through with both his arm and his bat.
Facing defending-champion and front-running Petaluma Tuesday night at Arnold Field, the Dragons staked Alton to a one-run lead in the bottom of the first, and the right-hander took over from there with masterful three-hit, shutout pitching, and a bases-loaded two-RBI single in a rousing 4-0 victory.
Sonoma handed the visiting Trojans their first league loss, while joining them atop the SCL standings at the halfway mark with 5-1 records each.
After the Dragons scored their first run on a bases-loaded, catcher-interference RBI infield single by junior Chandler Kelley – who would then get hit twice by pitches, with the second one nailing him square on his helmet in the back of his head, forcing him to leave the game – Alton helped his own cause with his clutch, two-run producing hit.
In the bottom of the fifth, Sonoma tacked on its fourth run when junior Will Rose, whose two-run homer beat SCL foe Analy on the road last Friday, delivered an RBI single for the final score.
Pitching five dominant innings, Alton’s only stressful frames came in the top of the first, when he left runners in scoring position, and in the top of the seventh, when the Trojans loaded the bases with only one out.
But Alton sealed his win by striking out the side in dramatic fashion and finishing his complete-game shutout, yielding just three singles, while striking out seven and walking two.
He also got solid defensive backing from his infielders, including sophomore third-baseman Jonah Son, second-baseman Rose, and juniors Kelley at first-base and Chris Swanson at shortstop, with the latter three turning a sparkling 4-6-3 double-play.
Another Dragon defensive gem was turned in by senior right-fielder Sean Daly, who fielded an errant throw down the first-base foul line and threw a laser-strike to second base to cut down the Petaluma runner.
Offensively, Sonoma was led by junior Sam Morgan’s three-for-three with two runs scored; senior Kevin Deely’s two-for-four with a run; Alton’s single and two RBIs; Kelley’s and Rose’s RBI single each; Daly’s single; and Son’s run.
“We’re a young team that continues to get better because these guys have a passion for the game and a desire to constantly improve, which makes it fun to watch, and especially to coach,” said Sonoma head coach Don Lyons, who’s assisted by longtime coach Mario Alioto, along with former Dragon standout Jody Ray, and Joe Schiebold and Dave Studdert. “Young players will make mistakes, and we made three huge mistakes against a strong Petaluma team. But they didn’t lose their focus and followed the lead of their rock-steady senior (Sam Alton) and overcame the mistakes and beat a good team, even though they didn’t play their best. That’s what makes me the most proud. But now they have to build on this defining moment by taking care of business against our next opponents, starting with Windsor.”
The Dragons host SCL foe Windsor at 7 p.m. today under the Arnold Field lights.