Dragons squander lead, caught by Casa for 1st, blank nonleague Novato, home finales tonight, Wednesday
Sonoma’s Will Rose awaits the ball in a play at second base during the Dragons’ eight-inning loss to longtime rival Casa Grande in Petaluma on Friday, which created a three-way first-place SCL tie.
With a chance to clinch at least a Sonoma County League co-title, while putting themselves on the brink of claiming the outright SCL crown, the first-place Sonoma Valley High School varsity baseball boys looked primed in completing the task by jumping out to a 3-0 first-inning lead over second-place Casa Grande Friday in Petaluma.
But the young Dragons’ promising advantage unraveled under the strain of miss-located pitches, untimely errors and inopportune whiffs at the plate, and Casa took advantage of the breakdowns to eventually tie the score, force an extra-inning, and then win the game 8-5 on a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth.
Sonoma’s crushing loss enabled not only the Gauchos, but defending-champion Petaluma, to create a three-way tie for the SCL’s top-spot heading into the last week of regular-season play.
The way the schedule plays out for the three first-place teams, the Dragons will have to be victorious in both their final SCL games if they want a share of the league title, making tonight’s home finale – including the annual honoring of the seniors before the 7 p.m. first-pitch – against Analy at Arnold Field a must-win situation.
Sonoma (13-7 overall, 8-2 SCL) will then host the top-ranked Division 3 team in the North Coast, San Marin, in a key nonleague battle at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, May 11, at Arnold Field, before hitting the road to face Petaluma in the season-finale at noon this Saturday, May 14.
In their loss to Casa, the Dragons were paced by sophomore Jonah Son’s two singles, RBI and run scored; junior Sam Morgan’s and starting sophomore pitcher Brennan Cole’s single and RBI each; a single and run apiece by senior Kevin Deely and juniors Will Rose and Ryan Matteo; and a single each by juniors Chandler Kelley, Chris Swanson and Michael Hernandez, who was the losing pitcher in relief. Sophomore Francis Christie hit Casa’s game-winning three-run homer.
“When you have a chance to put a good team like Casa away early, you have to take advantage of the situation and get it done, which we didn’t and it came back to bite us in the end. We showed our youth this time by not making the routine plays both defensively and offensively. Now we’re facing a tough challenge this week,” 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.
Last Thursday, Sonoma hit the road for a nonleague showdown with fellow Division 3 foe Novato and, though they could muster only two hits, they still were able to post a 5-0 win, as senior pitching ace Sam Alton continued his mound mastery with a 65-pitch three-hitter.
Providing the Dragons with just enough offense for the victory were junior Sam Morgan’s RBI single; single; two runs scored and key stolen base; senior Sean Daly two runs; and single.
Sonoma’s defensive highlight was provided by Matteo, who made an outstanding, fifth-inning-saving diving catch in left-field.