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Bears score upset win against Honkers
For the first time in four years since joining the Sacramento Valley League together, Pierce High defeated Willows on the baseball diamond.
Despite the Honkers' recent dominance in the win column, all but one game in the past eight meetings was decided by less than four runs.
Friday's game in Arbuckle once again featured two closely matched teams but the Bears pulled away with a four-run fifth-inning surge and ended the drought against the Honkers with a 6-3 victory.
"That was big for us, that was huge. I don't remember the last time Pierce has beaten Willows," Pierce coach Roy Perkins said. The victory was his first against Willows in eight years at the helm of the Bears baseball team.
Pierce took the lead early on a controversial play in the bottom of the first inning and led the entire game.
With two outs and a runner on base, Chris Tapia lifted a high flyball to left field where it caught in the wind and carried over the head of Willows outfielder Casey Taylor, who crashed through the temporary outfield fence as the ball dropped just out of his reach.
The umpire ruled it a ground-rule double and the run scored, but Bears coach Roy Perkins came out of the Pierce dugout and argued the call to no avail. As Taylor returned to the dugout between innings, Perkins asked him where the ball landed and Taylor replied that it should have been ruled a home run.
Willows pitcher Kyle Enos struck the next batter out, stranding Tapia at second base.
"I thought it went over because I saw it so I just kept on jogging, then they told me to stop even though the Willows guys were like, yeah that went over," Tapia said.
Ultimately, the lost run didn't hurt the Bears as they tacked on an unearned run in the second inning after Chaz Benton was hit by a pitch and scored on a throwing error.
Willows scored a run in the third inning after Clark Love reached on a fielder's choice, and scored on a throwing error after an infield single by Taylor.
Tapia made a charging, bare-handed play on a slow roller between second and third in the top of the fifth with a runner on third base to preserve the 2-1 lead for starting pitcher Taylor Cabral.
"(Cabral) did really good today, he had another game like that in Trinity and we won that one. When he's on, he's on and we can probably beat anyone," Tapia said.
The Bears' big inning came in the bottom of the fifth after Enos began the inning with a strikeout. He then hit Cabral, gave up a single to Jake Voorhees and drilled Hayden Kalfsbeek to load the bases.
Tapia, who was hit by a pitch in the third inning, took another pitch off the shoulder for an RBI, for the Bears' third free baserunner via being hit by a pitch in the inning and fifth in the game.
Freshman Dalton Sachs gave the Bears a 6-1 lead and put the game out of reach with a well-hit three-run double to center field.
"(Tapia) has been so good for us and then I've got the freshman (Sachs) batting behind him and boy did he come through in that inning and roped that double. That was huge," said Pierce coach Roy Perkins.
Willows rallied for two runs in the top of the sixth on a two-run single by Drake Mateson, but Ryan Welsh was thrown out after getting caught off the bag at second base and ejected for throwing his helmet down in frustration.
The Honkers had no shortage of runners, out-hitting the Bears 8-4 and reaching base on four hit batters and a hit by pitch.
"We can't seem to get the big hit. We had plenty of opportunities to get that hit to plate a couple runs but we just can't get it," Willows coach Manuel Rakestraw said.
The loss was Willows' second in a row in Sacramento Valley League play after starting out 5-0 and put Durham in full control of first place in league.
"We are kind of doing a nose-dive since that Durham game on Wednesday so I don't know, hopefully we can pick it back up and get back on top," Rakestraw said.
The Honkers (10-10-1, 5-2 SVL) played Durham (13-1, 7-0) again on Tuesday but the result was not available before press time. For Willows to earn a share of the SVL title it would need to beat the Trojans and sweep Trinity (7-8, 5-3 SVL) in a road doubleheader on Friday, and would need Colusa (11-14-1, 3-5) to upset Durham on Friday.
Pierce (5-13, 3-6) is out of the SVL title hunt but will look to close the regular season out on a positive note Friday against host Live Oak (0-15, 0-7 SVL).
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.