Ramona’s pitching staff limited Valley Center to five hits and one run as the Bulldogs swept the Jaguars in a two-game Valley League series to stay in hunt for the league title.
Pitching was the name of the game. Erik Ernst and Eric Brothers hooked in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel in the first game of the series, held last Tuesday at Ramona High. Ernst won, but it wasn’t easy.
Both pitchers put up goose eggs on the scoreboard for the first five innings. Valley Center scored a run in the top of the sixth and it looked like it might stand. The Jaguars scored without hitting the ball. Stanton Upson drew a one out walk. He stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a wild pitch.
Ramona did not score in the bottom of the sixth. It got down to the Bulldogs last at bat.
Smiley Willeford led off the inning with a single. Zach Adamos pinch ran for Smiley. Kyle Gray laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached first choice when Valley Center could not get Adamos at second base. Cody Willingham replaced Gray as a pinch runner. Blake Drake was hit by a pitch to load the bases. James Nicholson delivered a clutch RBI single to drive in Adamos Willeford was thrown out at the plate. Michael Scodellaro received an intentional walk to load the bases. With two down, Brady Wilson worked a full count and drew an RBI walk to end the game.
Ernst went the distance and limited Valley Center to one hit, a clean single. He fanned eight and walked two. Ernst improved his record to 7-1 on the season.
Ramona continued to use its successful formula to beat Valley Center at Petco Park 3-0. The game was part of High School Baseball at the San Deigo Padres home field, a promotion between the CIF San Diego Section and the Padres. Ramona’s Saturday morning game against Valley Center was one of five high school games staged at the major league park on Friday and Saturday. The Dawgs parlayed outstanding pitching, solid defense and opportunistic offense to bring home a win.
Cody Willingham pitched seven shutout innings as he struck out nine, scattered four hits and didn’t walk a batter until the seventh inning. He improved his record to 8-1 and his North County Conference leading strikeout total to 92.
The game was a scoreless tie for three innings as Willingham battled Cody Buekelman in a hurler’s battle. Ramona scored the winning run in the top of the fourth inning. With one out, Smiley Willeford and Kyle Gray drew back-to-back walks. With two down, James Nicholson ripped an opposite field single to left field for an RBI.
The Dawgs added a run in the fifth inning. Brady Wilson led off the frame with a single. With two down, Smiley was hit by a pitch. Gray hit a fly ball to right that was misplayed for an error and Wilson scored.
The Dawgs scored their final run in the seventh inning when Jackson Willeford was hit by a pitch with one down. Beau Sulser singled and Smiley drove in his brother with a single.
Despite playing in a major league park. The Dawgs did not appear nervous.
“I just settled down and concentrated on pitching,” said Willingham.
All players and coaches polled agreed: “It was an experience of a lifetime”; “It was a dream come true”; “It was fun.”
The Dawgs improved their record to 18-7 overall and are in first place in the Valley League with a 6-2 record as they get ready to play two other teams in the race for the league title: Westview and Oceanside.