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This matchup was hyped up to be one of the best matchups of the year, and it lived up to it. California and San Ramon Valley had their deciding game on Friday after splitting their two games earlier in the week. Both teams were on absolute tears, and it seemed like they hadn’t lost a game in weeks other than to each other. In this one, great pitching, great defense, some clutch hits and an eight-run inning won California this ballgame, 10-1.
This game started with Nic Bronzini on the mound for California, and after a long leadoff at-bat by Casey Cummings, he got the strikeout to start the game. The very next batter, however, he got down in the count, and on a 3-1 fastball to Jaron Nevarez, Nevarez hit a towering fly ball to deep center field, and with the wind blowing out the ball sailed way over the fence for a loud first run of the game. SRV then had two more runners reach base. Next up to bat was Evan Balingit, who hit a missile right at Teddy Booras, who then stepped on second and limited the damage to one run in the first inning.
Starting for San Ramon Valley was Ruben Rivera. After Cal’s first two batters singled, Rivera hunkered down and retired the next three batters to get out of his own jam.
Both pitchers for the next few innings absolutely dominated as they had everything working. The next 15 batters combined were retired by the two pitchers. Rivera would strike out three in the first three innings, while Bronzini would strike out six batters in the first three innings. At this point, 66% of his outs were strikeouts as his stuff was nasty all day.
The next scoring opportunity came in the top of the fourth inning, as San Ramon Valley would have runners on first and second with one out. On what seemed to be a routine double play ball to the shortstop turned into some major drama. The ball was thrown away by the second baseman, which seemed to allow the runner at first to be safe and the runner from second score and giving San Ramon Valley a 2-0 lead. However, both umpires called interference on the slide into second base, meaning the runner at first is called out and the inning ends without the runner scoring, keeping it a 1-0 game.
In the fifth inning, a one-out walk drawn by Brady Wetzel would get the rally started for the Grizzlies. Then Raoul Fabian singled, making it first and second with just one out, setting up the table for Aidan Camberg, who had himself a great day. Already 2-for-2 on the day, Camberg hit a chopper to short and scored the run that got to third on the passed ball earlier in the at-bat, tying the game at one and keeping the rally going. Next up to bat was Kyle Olimpia. Olimpia had hit the ball hard the other way twice but had nothing to show for it, so this time he decided to hit it to left field where he got it to fall for a base hit. This would score Fabian from second base, and Cal had its first lead of the day at 2-1. Camberg, standing on third base, tried to take advantage of a wild pitch and steal home but a fortuitous bounce for the Wolves and was tagged out, therefore ending the inning.
San Ramon Valley looked like it was trying to get a one out rally going as two base hits in a row gave it the go-ahead run on first. Bronzini pitched his way out of another jam, though. He would get another ground ball when he needed it and force the Wolves to ground into their third double play of the game and keep their lead at 2-1.
Cal did not feel comfortable with its one-run lead, especially after how crazy the previous two games were, so it came out swinging in the bottom half of the sixth. Two walks to the first three batters would give it the start of the rally it needed. Cal would then load the bases, ending River’s incredible day, as he finished the day with 7 strikeouts.
Wetzel was then hit by a pitch and also brought in a run, making it a 3-1 lead. Then Fabian, one of the Bay Area’s top players, stepped up to the plate. Already 2-for-3 and scoring a run on the day, Fabian felt confident going into his bases loaded at-bat, and he delivered. He hit an absolute tank over the wall, bringing in four runs on a grand slam.
“When I felt it, I knew it was crushed,” Fabian said.
Cal would go on to tack on three more runs and make it a 10-1 game.
The final score would be 10-1, but it was much closer than what the final score says. The adrenaline, the emotion, the passion in this game was unbelievable from the start, and it certainly lived up to its hype that preceded the contest.
“The change in culture in just one year is insane,” Bronzini said.
California improves its record to 18-4 on the season, and that comes after losing two of their first four games on the season. In California’s last full season, it went 10-14, but this year it has proven to be one of the best teams in the Bay Area.
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