The baseball team arrived at Big Rec field for Wednesday afternoon’s BCL Central semifinal matchup with Waldorf eager to take care of business against a team that it had beaten twice during the regular season. By the end of the first inning, the third postseason victory in program history was well in hand.
The fourth-seeded Wolverines refused to go quietly in the top half of the opening frame, but they came away with only one run. Starting pitcher Sam ’14 retired the first two batters that he faced, but he proceeded to issue a two-out walk, a cardinal pitching sin for which the Breakers briefly paid the price. The runner immediately stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and crossed the plate on an RBI single, leaving Bay in a 1-0 hole.
The Breakers weren’t in it for long.
With one out in the last of the first, Jason ’14 drew a four-pitch walk, and the next four Bay batters reached base, too. Two more bases on balls, drawn by the number-eight and -nine hitters, Jack ’14 and Aaron ’15, respectively, enabled the Breakers to bat around and set the stage for a two-run error that capped off the seven-run opening salvo. It was Bay’s best single-inning scoring output since the team’s 30-6 win over Leadership on April 26, and it accounted for half of its tally on a 14-run afternoon.
The Wolverines were hindered severely by the absence of their ace, Galen ’13, who was unable to play in the game. After digging in against more experienced hurlers in their victories over Bentley and University, the Breakers struggled to adjust to Waldorf’s younger pitchers, who could not match Galen’s velocity or consistently find the zone.
“The key [to hitting lower-velocity pitchers] is to heighten the focus, and work on staying inside the ball and using the whole field,” head coach Sean Engmann said, pointing out adjustments that the hitters will try to make before their next game.
Bay did most of its damage in Wednesday’s 14-4 win on the strength of free passes and shaky defense, gifts that it did not enjoy in its 6-0 weekend victory over University and from which it is unlikely to benefit going forward. The Breakers added two more runs apiece in the second and third innings, and then tacked on three more in the fourth, its last opportunity to bat in the five-inning contest.
Meanwhile, Sam settled into a groove on the mound, racking up six consecutive strikeouts, a span that ranged from the final out of the first inning to the second out of the third. By the time the top of the fourth rolled around, the Breakers were riding a comfortable nine-run lead, giving Engmann a chance to turn to his bullpen.
Patrick got the call to begin the frame, which marked his first appearance since the seventh inning of Bay’s 7-0 win over Waldorf on May 2. After shutting the door with a scoreless effort that time, though, Patrick faced rougher waters on Wednesday. The ninth-grader doled out four walks and three wild pitches in his 1 2/3 innings on the mound, but defensive lapses were as responsible for the three runs that came across as the 9th-grader’s control, which remains a work in progress.
Though maintaining focus and intensity, regardless of the score or inning, remains a point of emphasis for the team, Engmann is confident that the fielding will improve as the stage gets bigger. Variable hops off the uncut grass and uneven dirt on Graham Diamond contributed to the miscues.
“The field conditions at Big Wreck were appalling, and it’s really an embarrassment to the City and County of San Francisco,” Engmann said, using the not-so-affectionate moniker that the field has earned. “I am not worried about our defense—our infield is one of the strongest I’ve coached, and it’s certainly the best in school history.”
Chevalo ’13 came on with two down in the top of the fifth. He, too, permitted a walk, but nonetheless needed only seven pitches to finish the job. Chevalo’s fellow co-captain, Isaias ’13, paced the offense with three RBI, two of them on a first-inning single that capped off a seven-pitch at-bat.
The semifinal victory, which extended the Breakers’ winning streak to 12 games and bumped their overall record to 15-3, was the latest step in the team’s pursuit of a league title and its goal to compete in North Coast Section play. Bay now owns the highest winning percentage (.833) in NCS Division V, to go with the longest unbeaten run. And though you can file this one under the category of “a win is a win is a win is a win,” it did provide one interesting statistical nugget: For the first time in program history, none of the Bay batters struck out.
The Breakers will look to sharpen their glovework and hone their bats during Thursday afternoon’s practice in preparation for Friday’s league championship game. They will take on second-seeded Pescadero, which routed third-seeded Leadership on Wednesday, with a chance to secure the second BCL Central crown in program history. First pitch for that contest is set for 3:30 p.m. on Big Rec-Graham.