Stellar Outings Mark Day 6
By Jack Coppinger
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. –– Day six of the 2016 California Winter League Season got off to a great start on Auxiliary Field with a matchup between the Toronto Rush and the Alberta Grizzly. Alberta struck first in the third against Toronto starter Seth Powers, plating two during a two out rally punctuated RBI singles from Kyle Adie and Brian Fay. Unfazed, Toronto plated an unearned run in the top of fifth to pull within one, only to see Alberta add two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning on another RBI single from Brian Fay –he would finish the day with two hits in three at bats and three runs driven in. Down by three, the Rush batters never gave in, staging their own two out rally in the sixth inning that forced Alberta starter Conor Leblanc from the game, highlighted by a Jordan Thilveris RBI single. However, the Toronto comeback fell short, as Grizzly reliever Aaron Plunkett struck out three over one and a third scoreless innings to earn the save. Alberta (3-2) defeats Toronto (2-3), 4-2.
In the day’s first action on the main field at Palm Springs Stadium, the defending champion Canada A’s exploded for six late runs to defeat the Bay Area Bootleggers. The teams remained scoreless into the sixth inning thanks to stellar pitching efforts from starters Rickey Schafer and Ben Allison of Canada and Bay Area, respectively. It was then, after both managers called upon their respective bullpens that the game’s balance of shifted towards the A’s, who plated five runs in the inning by sending ten batters to the plate, including center fielder Kevin Barker who finished the day 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Bay Area would score a run in each of the sixth and seventh innings, but a seventh inning insurance run for the A’s –scored by Barker– ensured that the lead would stand. Canada (4-1) defeats Bay Area (2-2-1), 6-2.
Back on the Auxiliary field, the Palm Desert Coyotes earned the victory over the British Columbia Bombers thanks to a complete game pitching performance from starter Andrew Lowe. Lowe, who just days ago signed a contract with the Windy City Thunderbolts of the Frontier League, looked near invincible on the day as he delivered seven strong innings of one run ball, scattering five hits and walk while striking out eight. The only blemish on the tall righty’s day came on a towering home run in the fourth inning by Bobby Webb, who improved his 2016 CWL average .462 and picked up his fourth extra base hit in as many games. Palm Desert (3-2) defeats British Columbia (2-2-1), 4-1.
The day’s fourth matchup featured two teams, the Coachella Valley Snowbirds and the Palm Springs Power, that were hungry to earn their first win of the young season. The teams traded impressive defensive plays in the early innings and entered the fifth withe Power leading 1-0. In the frame, the Snowbirds would tie the game thanks to the speed of Marc Culmer –who hustled down the line, beating a strong throw from third baseman Ian Hagenmiller to earn an RBI infield single– only to see the Power retake the lead in the bottom half of the inning after a leadoff, pinch-hit triple by Cameron Johnson. The Snowbirds’ would again rally to score the tying run in the sixth, but were unable to hold the Power in their half of the inning, eventually allowing two runs in a rally punctuated by Trent Zaks’ RBI single. Power (1-3) defeat Coachella Valley (0-5), 4-2.
In the final action of the day the Washington Blue Sox earned their first victory of the 2016 season as they defeated Midwest Haymakers in walk-off fashion. In the ballgame, Blue Sox pitchers Brandon Boyle and Kevin Nutley combined to throw seven innings of shutout baseball, allowing just five hits and stifling the potent Haymakers lineup with had scored 21 runs in just three CWL games prior to today. Their combined efforts helped set the stage for Blue Sox fireworks in the seventh; the inning began with pinch hitter Kirk Pruitt who worked a walk and advanced to third thanks to a single by Stephen Corona followed sacrifice bunt by Eddie Mora-Loera. The sequence put runners on second and third with just one out for center fielder Garrett Gordon. To counter, Midwest manager Gabe Suarez ordered the infield in, however the strategy backfired when Gordon hit a high chopper to he left side forcing third baseman Beau Riportella to retreat on the ball and allowing Pruitt to dash home with the winning run. Washington (1-4) defeats Midwest (2-2), 1-0.
Be sure to come out to Palm Springs Stadium tomorrow –Wednesday, the 27th of January– for Dollar Admission Wednesday presented by Jack in the Box! See two exciting California Winter League matchups for just one dollar! Gates open at 9:30am, first pitch between the Palm Desert Coyotes and the New York Colonials at 10:00am! Game two between the Manitoba North Stars and the Midwest Haymakers gets underway at 12:30pm.