SPRING VALLEY – The Hall Red Devils used an offensive surge in the early innings to top the Mendota Trojans Saturday, 7-1, in non-conference boys’ varsity baseball action.
“(We) got off to a good start and then sat on it,” said Hall coach Tom Keegan. “A win’s a win, but it would have been nice to have finished it off a little sooner. We just kind of played it out, got some early runs and just sat on it.”
Thus, Hall managed to avenge one of their only four losses on the season, a narrow 3-2 defeat the Red Devils suffered exactly two weeks ago on this same Foley Field in Spring Valley amidst play in the Legends Wooden Bats Tournament, hosted by Putnam County High School.
Senior Brett Fanning was the hitting star for the Red Devils (15-4), as the Hall shortstop stroked a two-run single up the middle in the first frame, then followed up with a ringing two-run double to deep center field just one inning later.
Taggart Venegas led off the bottom of the first inning with a double to deep left field on the first pitch he saw. Dan Nolasco followed with a single to right, leaving runners at second and third base with nobody out early on.
Fanning plated the game’s first two runs with a single up the middle. Hall eventually stranded the bases loaded, settling for an early 2-0 lead after one inning.
Trevor Urbanski, Hall’s No. 9 batter, led off the bottom of the second with a single that caromed off the second base bag. Venegas walked. Nolasco singled to right, scoring Urbanski.
With runners at second and third – Nolasco had moved to second on the throw into the infield – it was Fanning again coming up big with his bat.
Fanning drilled a 3-1 pitch to deep center field to make it 5-0, Hall.
Blake Moreno lined out into a double play, but Miguel Villarreal added the Red Devils’ sixth run on a solo home run, a fly ball that just kept carrying, eventually, over the fence in left field.
Trevor Urbanski drove in Matt Boucher, who had been hit by a pitch and stole second base, with a solid single to right center field in the bottom of the third, and Hall posted a 7-0 edge.
The Trojans committed four more errors in the field on Saturday, an emerging problem for the Mendota squad this season.
“It’s not the physical errors, it’s the mental mistakes. We’re having too many of those,” said Mendota coach Aaron Sester. “The kids have got to learn, we can’t win a baseball game with those mental mistakes. They’ve been numerous, and we’ve got to work together to fix that.
“You need to be on your toes, every inning, every pitch, know where you need to go with the ball if it’s hit to you. And we don’t seem to do that, grasp that, in the last couple days. The kids have to step up and start focusing in more.”
Austin Schmitt evened his pitching record this season against Mendota at 1-1, going the game’s first four innings, allowing no runs on four hits, while walking three and striking out four Trojans.
Pete Mautino relieved Schmitt on the mound in the fifth stanza, boasting a quick, six-pitch, essentially 1-2-3, inning when Matt Dornink singled to left but was thrown out at second base for the inning’s third out.
Venegas ascended the mound for the sixth and seventh innings, laboring through 51 pitches (29 of them balls) and five walks, seemingly extending the visitors a little late-game hope.
But Venegas gave up only Aaron Olsen’s bases-loaded RBI-groundout to third that plated Trae Blumhorst, who stole three bases in the game.
With the bases re-loaded on Mendota’s fourth walk of the frame, Venegas retired both the Trojans’ Nos. 8 and 9 hitters on a flyout to shallow center and a called third strike, as Hall’s 7-1 lead was preserved.
“Our pitchers threw well,” Keegan said. “Schmitty came out and did a nice a job for us. Pete (Mautino) gave us a real good inning. And it was time for Taggart to get a couple of innings of work, too. We just haven’t really played enough (games) to really get guys the amount of innings that they need. It’s a good thing we got them (runs) early. Because it was like two different games in one, it seemed like. We were off and ready in the first couple innings, then kind of (coasted) the last few (innings).”
All told, the Trojans left nine runners on base, included a whopping eight of them in scoring position.
“We stranded quite a few on the base paths today. We just couldn’t get that big hit when we needed it,” Sester said. “I think we had runners on in every inning, at least one (each inning). We just couldn’t get them in. Give their pitchers credit.”
Hall out-hit Mendota, 10-5. Fanning, Nolasco and Trevor Urbanski all had two hits each for the winners, while Fanning supplied a game-high four RBI.
The freshman Garet Zinke (1-4) took the pitching loss for Mendota (5-16), going three innings, allowing all seven earned runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out three Red Devils. Matt Dornink pitched three scoreless innings in relief.