Dragons run past Analy, upset No. 1 San Marin, SCL title up for grabs at Petaluma tomorrow
Alton fires 2-hitter, Swanson walk-off wins a pair
Sonoma’s Michael Hernandez, throwing out a Mustang runner, pitched a complete-game six-hitter in the Dragons’ come-from-behind win over NCS top-ranked Division 3 San Marin Wednesday night at Arnold Field.
For the second year in a row, Sonoma Valley High School’s varsity baseball boys will play Petaluma for the Sonoma County League championship, though this year it will be for a co-title, instead of competing the outright crown, with longtime rival Casa Grande locked in a three-way first-place SCL tie with them.
After being stunned at Casa on a three-run eight-inning homer last Friday to create the logjam atop the standings, the Dragons bounced back by the slimmest of margins – scoring on both a double-steal and a bang-bang play off a ground-out – in edging league foe Analy 2-1 Tuesday night at Arnold Field.
With Petaluma and Casa also winning on Tuesday, Sonoma will end its regular season facing the defending-champion Trojans – who won last year’s season-ending battle with the Dragons to capture the title – at noon tomorrow, Saturday, May 14, in Petaluma. Depending on Casa’s finale result, the Sonoma versus Petaluma winner will at least earn a co-championship.
Before winning their home finale Tuesday night, Sonoma honored its five seniors and their parents, including Sam Alton, Kevin Deely, Sean Daly, Steven McGunagle and Alec Berthoud.
The Dragons then took the field and got another stellar complete-game performance from Alton, who, after a rare out-of-sync start resulted in his walking in Analy’s lone run (unearned), finally got in a groove to pitch a shutdown two-hitter, striking out four, walking two, and retiring 18 of the last 19 batters he faced.
Trailing the visiting Tigers 1-0, Sonoma scored its first run when Daly, who reached on an infield single, stole home on a double-steal with junior Will Rose, who got caught in a run-down between first- and second-base, which he ended up stealing.
Then, in the bottom of the sixth, the Dragons tallied their game-winner when McGunagle, who had walked and worked his way to third-base, was sent home by head coach Don Lyons on an unassisted ground-out to first-base by junior Chris Swanson.
Sonoma, which mustered only four hits, was led by Daly’s single and run; a single each by Alton, Deely and sophomore Brennan Cole; Swanson’s RBI; and McGunagle’s run.
In Wednesday night’s rained-out makeup game at Arnold Field, the Sonoma baseball boys hosted San Marin, the top-ranked Division 3 team in the North Coast Section, in a key nonleague battle and spotted the Mustangs a 2-0 first-inning lead on errors that led to two unearned runs.
But junior pitcher Michael Hernandez didn’t yield another run and the Dragons, who had no hits and only one base-runner, via an error, off San Marin’s Brad Smith entering the bottom of the seventh, finally came alive offensively, with Swanson delivering a clutch, two-RBI, walk-off single to center that gave Sonoma a significant 3-2 victory.
The Dragons’ triumphant rally began when Deely and sophomore Jonah Son opened the final frame with back-to-back singles.
Junior Sam Morgan then hit a fielder’s choice grounder to first-base that saw the force-out throw to second base bounce off Son as he reached the bag, and, when the ball laid loose on the infield, Deely rounded third and scored the first run for Sonoma (15-7 overall, 9-2 SCL).
Cole followed by making the first out with another fielder’s choice grounder, but he advanced Son to third and Morgan to second, setting up Swanson’s victorious single that plated junior pinch-runner Ryan Matteo with the tying run, and Morgan with the winning run.
Hernandez pitched a complete game for the win, scattering six hits, while striking out six and walking none.