By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
In a game that featured plenty of walks, strikeouts and questionable base running, Tohopekaliga took advantage of a wild pitch to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning and then held on for a 3-2 win over St. Cloud on Monday night.
“We did not hit the ball well tonight, we made some base running mistakes and we made a few errors, but at the end of the day, we did enough to win the game,” Tigers head coach Nikko Martell said of his team that went to 7-1 on the season.
The winning rally was far from text book on how to win a game.
With the score tied 2-2, Jose Montalvo ripped a double to the right centerfield gap to open the inning. Pinch hitter Christian Viali missed on a bunt attempt and Bulldogs catcher Roman Lopez would gun Montalvo out after he wandered too far off of second base. Viali would then strike out.
But pitcher Aiden Peguero would exit the game after walking Austin Montalvo. Relief pitcher Ayden Hampton would walk pinch hitter Anthony Paradiso and Diego Miranda would load the bases after reaching on an infield single. Hampton would then unleash a wild pitch to score Austin Montalvo for the game winner.
It was a somewhat sloppy game indicative of two teams coming off of spring break.
St. Cloud would fall behind 2-0 in the game as starting pitcher Logan King failed to retire any of the first five batters he would face to start the game. After allowing two walks and a single to load the bases, King would allow two runs on back-to-back walks to Hudson Moberly and Jose Montalvo.
Relief pitcher Aiden Peguero relieved King and got a pop out and would then get out of the inning on a sensation play from Hampton, who started the game in centerfield. Hampton would chase down and then make a diving catch of Austin Montalvo’s line drive, and followed the catch by doubling off Moberly at second to end the inning.
From that point on, it was St. Cloud who provided most of the scoring threats for the remainder of the game. The Bulldogs put runners in scoring position in each of the next six innings but could only manage an RBI single by King in the second and added the tying run in the third on a throwing error.
Base running mistakes and lack of the key hit doomed the Bulldogs in the game.
Twice with a man on third and less than two outs, St. Cloud would have a runner thrown out at home plate. In the fourth, with Peguero on third, Nathan Bianco missed a squeeze play bunt sign and Peguero was thrown out at home. In the fifth, Luke Larkins was on third but wandered too far off base on a pitch in the dirt and was eventually thrown out at the plate in a run down.
In the seventh, Ethan Sanborn – who opened the inning with a single – was gunned down attempting to go from first to third on Lopez’s sharp single to left-center. In addition to having three men cut down on the base paths, St. Cloud would only go one for 10 with runners in scoring position in the contest.
“Tohopekaliga is a talented and sound team and I certainly do not want to take anything away from the way they played,” Bulldog coach David Blackmore said. But the problem is when you come back from spring break and don’t have quality at-bats and you don’t score when you have runners on base and you make mistakes on the base path, it makes it hard to win. We left 12 guys on base, we messed up a squeeze play when a freshman hitter missed a sign, and we didn’t run the bases very well. When things like that happen, it usually ends in a loss.”
Blackmore did have some praise for the pitching of Peguero. “He came in early under very tough circumstances and got us out of the inning. He pitched extremely well and allowed us to get back into the game. Unfortunately we weren’t able to give him more support he needed for us to finish the deal.”
Martell also got some excellent pitching on the Tigers side. Starter Trey Sheffield went four and two-thirds inning, allowing six hits and just one earned run while striking out eight. Winning pitcher Adrian Quevedo worked the final two and a third innings of scoreless relief, allowing two hits with two walks and a pair of strikeouts. “Trey knows he is not the hardest thrower around but he is so good at locating his pitches,” Martell said. “He gave us a winning performance tonight. Seems like Toho was threatening every inning, but when we needed an out, Trey or Adrian got us the out that we needed.”
St. Cloud outhit Tohopekaliga, 8-4 but stranded 12. All three Tohopekaliga runs came on walks or wild pitches.
Toho First: Hudson Moberly walked (RBI), Justin Diaz scored. Jose Montalvo walked (RBI), Neshawn Taylor score. Tohopekaliga 2, St. Cloud 0
St. Cloud Second: Logan King singled (RBI), Roman Lopez scored.
St. Cloud Third: Luke Larkins reached on throwing error, Nathan Bianco scored.
Toho Sixth: Austin Montalvo walked, scored on a wild pitch