By Bill Tamburrino
Ramona’s and Del Norte’s high school baseball teams are tied atop the Valley League with 8-3 records and will face each other one more time, May 15, to end the season.
The Bulldogs entered the two-game Del Norte series trailing the Nighthawks by two games in battle for the Valley League pennant.
Head coach Dean Welch was careful to say that the first game was not a must-win but it was. The Dawgs not only won the first game but they swept the series.
Rhett Williams is the veteran of the pitching staff and according to Welch, “He came up big! I wanted the ball in his hands in the opener of the series and he took it and did the job, big time.” The Bulldogs took the first game, 4-3.
The crafty right-hander went 6-1/3 innings and scattered nine hits as he gave up two earned runs and stranded eight base runners. CJ Broussard entered the game in the seventh inning with the tying run and winning run on base and slammed the door shut as he got the final two batters to ground out as he picked up the save.
The Dawgs made the most of eight hits as they broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh with two runs. Henry Flecker continued to swing a hot bat. The left-handed hitter went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Taylor Burger was perfect at the plate as he went 2-for-2 with a run scored. Brandon Fitzpatrick went 1-for-2 and scored a run. Gage Canning hit a solo home run. Joel Mitchell and Kyle Wilson also hit safely in the game.
“We played well on defense, which was also a major factor in the game. When you have a pitcher throwing strikes and the defense is making plays the game goes quickly and well,” said pitching coach Josh Lohman.
Kyle Wilson also pitched a gem of a game in the second game of the series. The team had been having a difficult time scoring runs for Wilson in some of his previous starts but that ended at Rocky Lawler Field when the Dawgs gave Wilson some insurance runs in a 17-1 rout of the Nighthawks.
Wilson logged five innings and gave up one run on three hits and struck out one. The biggest task that faced Wilson after the first inning was keeping loose during the long rallies the Bulldogs mounted against the Nighthawks. Blake Workman finished the game in a non-save situation and tossed two shutout innings and struck out four.
The offense was like an oldies but goodies station. The hits just kept on coming. Flecker drove in four runs with a double and a single. Fitzpatrick led the attack with three hits and three RBIs. Jonathon Doulgeropoulos also drove in three Bulldogs with two hits. Mitchell had two doubles. Broussard had a two hit two RBI outing. Burger had two hits and an RBI. Joey Belluso had a double in his only trip to the plate. Farhat and Hagan both stroked singles.
“We definitely came to win this game. In the first inning I could see that the team wanted this one. Every hit was a shot. This was a big game and we wanted to be in first place at the end of it,” said Welch, who was as excited as his players during the game.
In the interim, Ramona has a series this week with Oceanside, a team that has a 6-5 record in league play. Del Norte has a series with Mission Hills, a team that has not won a game since league play began and is 0-11. If both teams are tied at the end of this week expect a large Ramona turnout on the road at Del Norte on May 15.