By Jack Coppinger – @JHCoppinger
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. –– Baseball returned to Palm Springs Stadium on Monday, as the California Winter League resumed play following a scheduled off day.
The day’s first action on the main diamond inside historic Palm Springs Stadium featured a matchup with big time playoff implications, as the New York Colonials (9–5) managed clinch a first round bye in the California Winter League playoffs by topping the Canada A’s (7–6) in a close affair.
After falling behind 1-0, Canada received a major offensive boost from shortstop Jeremy Scott, who lifted three-run a home run over the leftfield wall to give his team the lead 3-1.
But Scott’s home run would not prove to be enough for Pat O’Sullivan and the A’s, as the Colonials received run scoring base-hits from Alfonso Reda and Mark Demko to tie the ballgame and eventually take the lead for good, 5-4.
Kyano Cummings pitched the game’s final two innings for New York while striking out three batters to earn his league-leading fourth victory.
In the day’s next ballgame, Hit King (6–6) managed a 1-0 victory over the first place Palm Springs Chill (10-3) thanks to a walkoff single by Shao-Bin Ho.
Despite a pair of early rallies for each team, neither the Chill nor Hit King could plate a run, and as the day wore on both pitching staffs only became stronger.
Entering the bottom half of the game’s final frame, Chill manager Dan DiPace went to the bullpen for Jose Flores, his heretofore dominant closer, to try to keep Hit King off the board. But Hit King’s offense had other ideas, managing to put runners at first and second with just one out for Shao-Bin Ho, who singled to plate the game’s winning run.
The loss drops the Palm Springs Chill out of sole-possession of first place and into a tie with the Palm Springs Power.
Over on the Auxiliary Field, the day’s action began with a matchup between the Toronto Rush (8–6) and the Oregon Lumberjacks (8–6), with the Lumberjacks –who entered the day trailing Toronto by a single game for fourth place in the standings– taking the win by a final score of 8-1.
Joe Daru was the day’s impact player, as he opened the ballgame by working a walk and stealing two bases, before scoring on a groundout by Thomas Roulis. He would later drive home three runs for Oregon by scorching a triple in the second inning.
Cole Loncar and Lucas Hunter also tripled for Oregon, while Evander Ledward earned the win by hurling four innings of one run baseball.
The Lumberjacks win moves both teams into a tie for fourth place – a position that comes with the final first-round playoff bye– with just a day remaining in the regular season.
In the Auxiliary Field’s second action of the day, the Manitoba North Stars (5–9) defeated the Alberta Grizzly (3–11) by a final score of 4-1, behind a stellar effort by starting pitcher Jordan Pannell.
Making his fifth start of the season, Pannell cemented his place among the league’s most impressive pitchers by hurling six shutout innings to earn the win, while allowing just four hits and striking out seven Grizzly batters. The outing lowered his season earned run average to a minuscule 1.75.
Joshua McAdams was the lone bright spot for Alberta, delivering a triple as part of a two hit performance that raised his season batting average to .395 over thirty-eight at bats.
The days final action saw the Coachella Valley Snowbirds (5–9) defeat the Washington Blue Sox (3–11) by a final score of 5-2.
The Snowbirds offense was led by first baseman Jonathan Crank, a signee of the Cleburne Railroaders of the American Association, who finished the day with three hits and run batted in over four at bats.
Knuckleballer Ricky Navarro made the start for Coachella Valley, hurling four innings of one run baseball before turning it over to the bullpen. He would not factor into the decision.
Pete “Moonlight” Swiderski hurled a scoreless frame while striking out two batters in relief for manager Andrew Cotner’s Blue Sox.
California Winter League baseball continues tomorrow with another five games taking place at the Palm Springs Stadium facilities:
- New York Colonials @ British Columbia Bombers [AUX Field – 8:30 a.m.]
- Hit King @ Toronto Rush [PS Stadium – 9:00 a.m.]
- Palm Springs Chill @ Coachella Valley Snowbirds [AUX Field – 11:00 a.m.]
- Palm Springs Power @ Alberta Grizzly [PS Stadium – 11:30 p.m.]
- Canada A’s @ Oregon Lumberjacks[AUX Field – 1:30 p.m.]
- Manitoba North Stars @ Washington Blue Sox [PS Stadium – 2:00 p.m.]
Tomorrow is Two-for-Tuesday at Palm Springs Stadium. All tickets are 2-for-1 and hot dogs, beers, and sodas are all $2!