Mired in a preseason malaise of four close losses and one lone win, the Sonoma Valley High School varsity baseball boys were in need of stringing together some solid outings to right their wavering ship.
So the Dragons regrouped and turned in a ship-steadying weekend behind strong pitching and dashing base running, which landed back-to-back nail-biting nonleague victories, nipping Vintage 2-1 on Friday at the Veterans Home field in Yountville, then edging Alhambra 3-1 Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field.
Both triumphs, which improved Sonoma’s preseason record to 3-4, featured first varsity pitching wins for senior Mitch Hood and sophomore MacLean Meyn – a multi-position standout at catcher and first base, besides on the mound – and dynamic base-running led by senior Vinny Albano.
In beating an always good Vintage team, Meyn went the distance, giving up seven hits, yielding just one earned run, striking out seven and walking only one.
Meyn also scored the Dragons’ second run off an RBI sacrifice fly by Hood, after he reached third base as the back runner of a double-steal in the top of the sixth inning started by Albano, who swiped third and scampered home to score the first run off the throwing error.
Offensively, Sonoma could muster only three hits off the bats of Albano, senior Dan Deely and junior Kyle Dunevent.
Pitching and base-running again took center stage in Saturday afternoon’s victory over visiting Alhambra from Martinez, with Hood throwing five solid innings until the top of the sixth, when he injured his ankle attempting to making a hard put-out at home plate and had to leave the game.
Senior right-hander Jimmy Flatt then took the mound for the final two innings, without yielding a run and giving up two hits to earn the save after Hood pitched a five-plus-inning one-hitter.
Offensively, the Dragons scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the third inning, with Albano walking, stealing second and scoring on a Deely single.
Then, with senior Ronnie Cotter running for Deely, reaching second base on junior CJ Vitale’s single, Sonoma head coach Don Lyons put on another double-steal and, with both runners advancing safely, called for a suicide squeeze bunt that caught Alhambra off guard.
With senior Jack Murphy perfectly executing the squeeze, not only did Cotter score, but so did Vitale, who kept on running from second base, rounded third-base and headed home for the final run.
Leading Sonoma were Deely’s two singles and one RBI; Murphy’s single and two RBIs; Vitale’s single and run; and Dunevent’s single.
The Dragons begin play in the annual Adam Westcott Memorial Tournament at Casa Grande in Petaluma Thursday, March 20, when they’ll face Maria Carrillo in the opening round.