Matadors inch close to CCS berth with win over Fremont HS

Senior+William+Shih+awaits+a+pitch+during++from+a+Firebird+pitcher.+Their+offense+carried+them+to+a+victory+over+the+Firebirds.+
Back to Article
Back to Article

Matadors inch close to CCS berth with win over Fremont HS

Senior William Shih awaits a pitch during  from a Firebird pitcher. Their offense carried them to a victory over the Firebirds.

Senior William Shih awaits a pitch during from a Firebird pitcher. Their offense carried them to a victory over the Firebirds.

Senior William Shih awaits a pitch during from a Firebird pitcher. Their offense carried them to a victory over the Firebirds.

Senior William Shih awaits a pitch during from a Firebird pitcher. Their offense carried them to a victory over the Firebirds.

Pranav Iyer

On April 30, the Matadors came into their league matchup against the Fremont Firebirds on a three game winning streak and sat in a tie for second place in the division. Before the game, junior Matthew Hui said that the Matadors would likely have to “win out” in order to win their league. Given the circumstances, the Matadors took care of business, defeating the Firebirds 11-3.

The scoreboard may have looked deceiving, because for the first third of the game, the Firebirds (9-13, 2-9) had control of the game. They started off with a bang, as their leadoff hitter, Alonzo Vergara, singled and then proceeded to steal second. Then, with one out, senior Sheldon McClelland walked TJ Solomona who also advanced to second after a pitch into the dirt. The next batter hit a slow grounder towards sophomore Brenden Hughes who hesitated to throw it home due to the fact that Vergara wasn’t fully committed. But after a few anxious moments, Vergara finally decided to sprint home, being almost halfway there already. Hughes’s throw was too late and too low and went behind senior catcher Sam Natsari, allowing not only Vergara to score but also Solomona who wheeled all the way from second base.

What should have been a two-out situation with runners on second and third, went completely wrong for the Matadors (14-9, 8-3). Luckily for them, they were able to get out of the inning after that, trailing 2-0.

In the first three innings on offense, the Matadors were unable to put together any offensive consistency, leaving three runners on base during that stretch.

Senior William Shih awaits a pitch during from a Firebird pitcher. Their offense carried them to a victory over the Firebirds. Photo by Pranav Iyer.

 

Then in the fourth inning, the Matador offense exploded, albeit with some help by the Firebirds. The rally was started off by McClelland, who nearly whiffed on the ball, only managing to tap it out in front of the plate a few feet. Although it seemed to be a fairly easy play for the pitcher, he ended up throwing the ball too low, causing the first basemen to come of the bag and allow Sheldon to make it safely to first.

After McClelland stole second, senior Timothy Iwamoto hit a high pop up right in front of the mound. Despite knowing the ball was headed straight toward the pitcher, Iwamoto charged down the first base line. The effort paid off for Iwamoto, as the pitcher dropped the ball and was unable to get the throw to first on time.

Then, with one out and runners on second and third, junior Ryan Granzella came up big with a blooper that fell right in front of the diving Firebirds left fielder. Both McClelland and Iwamoto scored to tie the game up at two.

IMG_7137

Sophomore Brendan Hughes had a two-RBI triple during the Matadors huge fourth inning. He went 2-5, scoring both times he reached base. Photo by Pranav Iyer.

With two outs, the Matadors kicked into another gear, riding their momentum. Junior Matthew Li hit a line drive into right field to put senior Danny Takahashi in scoring position. The ensuing batter, sophomore Brendan Hughes bombs a triple over the Firebirds’ right fielder, sending Takahashi and Li home. Yet another error by the Firebirds, this time a dropped throw on an attempt to throw out senior Kevin Nordby at second, allows Hughes to score. To finish off the inning, senior captain Sam Nastari mirrors Brendan’s big hit, this time hitting it over the left fielder, to bring Nordby home and reverse a run two deficit to a four run lead in the matter of one inning.

“As coach said, once we got down 2-0 in the first inning, we started playing really tight and scared,” McClelland said. “Then once we relaxed, we put up six in one inning.”

The Firebird offense had work to do to get back in the game as they headed into the fifth inning. And as Tommy Guilfoyle was able to get a leadoff triple, it seemed as if the Firebirds were right on track to make a comeback. However, in the ensuing at-bat, McClelland’s pitch went behind Nastari at the plate. With Guilfoyle rushing towards home,

Junior Surya Kumaraguru came into for relief for senior Sheldon McClelland at the mound. After the first inning, the pitching for the Matadors was nearly unstoppable. Photo by Pranav Iyer.

Junior Surya Kumaraguru came into for relief for senior Sheldon McClelland at the mound. After the first inning, the pitching for the Matadors was nearly unstoppable. Photo by Pranav Iyer.

Natsari recovered the lost ball, turned around and flipped the ball from his knees to McClelland who just managed to tag Guilfoyle in time to get the out at the plate. This ended the Firebirds short-lived momentum and put out their fire for the rest of the game, as they were only able to manage scoring one more run in the sixth inning.

On the other hand, the Matadors were able to continue their unstoppable offense into the fifth inning, in which they added five more runs to their lead fueled by more sloppy defense by the Firebirds and big hits throughout the Matador order.

During this game, many of the Matadors decided to use Granzella’s fluorescent orange bat that sticks out from the rest as they see it is as good luck. Some even credited their dominant offense to the bat.

“Its the Highlighter good mojo,” Granzella said. “Gotta spread the love… can’t be selfish.”

The Matadors now head into their final four games as they push towards a CCS berth. According, to Prep2Prep CCS projections, they sat at eleventh place before their win against the Firebirds. They sit a game away from the first-place Cupertino Pioneers but will have an opportunity to play against both them and second place Gunn one last time.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we control our future,” head coach Nick Bonacorsi said. “So thats fun, man. We get to go up there and it’s all up to us. We don’t have to worry about anybody else.”

If the Matadors can secure one of the first two seeds in league, they will receive an automatic bid to the CCS Division I playoffs. Otherwise, they will have to win an at-large bid.