The West High baseball team defeated the Millennium High Falcons for the second time in two weeks on home turf on Wednesday. However, the 8-1 margin of victory does not tell the whole story of how in-the-game the visitors were for the best part of six innings.
Down 4-1 at the top of the sixth, the Falcons were benefitting handsomely from everything West’s senior relief pitcher Angel Souza gave them. Souza had just walked three Falcons to load the bases for the visitors after taking over from senior Jacob Bourke the previous inning.
With no outs, Millennium had their first lead of the game on bases. However then, Souza’s clutch gene shone through.
In very dangerous territory and with the game on the line, the four-year player struck out three straight Falcons at-bats to get his defense off the field unscathed. It was arguably the biggest play of the game. The winning play.
“Sometimes (Souza) gets a little too emotional,” West head coach David Farfan told the Tracy Press when asked about the above sequence.
“He’s always working really fast and we try to get him to settle down sometimes. He’s one of those pitchers where there isn’t a set number of pitches that it takes to get him going. But once he finds his groove, he starts figuring things out.”
Filled with confidence on the back of that defensive stand, the Wolf Pack offense got to work and scored four runs at the bottom of the sixth to make it 8-1 and all but put the game out of reach.
The avalanche began when Souza doubled into left field to bring home senior Chris Inigo. Senior Cruz Trujillo then connected sweetly on a single that soared high up into the sky before dropping in between a number of Falcons right in the middle of the diamond — giving West senior Andrew Simms and Souza enough time to get home to make it 7-1.
Junior Noah Guerrero rounded off the damage in the inning when his single saw Bourke trot home from third base to set the final score line.
Other than the brief self-inflicted fire which Souza promptly put out to start the inning, the Wolf Pack saw out the game with relative comfort. They took control after getting out to an early lead and brought home a comprehensive victory.
“It was a team win,” Farfan said. “With all of the rain and everything going on, there was a little rust. But all of our guys got in the game and contributed here and there. We have some guys at-bats that are swinging well, so that’s going good for us. Our pitching has been adequate. We just have to keep getting better. It’s the fourth game of the season and we just have to keep it going.”
Bourke led the hosts from the mound for most of the game, visibly picking up confidence in his pitching arsenal as the innings passed by. He pitched for five innings allowing three hits and one earned run while striking out four batters.
Bourke spoke about his team’s performance and the early momentum that they are picking up — having now improved to 3-1 — after the game.
“It was good,” he said. “We’re all having fun. Towards the end we started slipping up a little bit. Everybody was being a little emotional. We need to tighten things up a little bit; start strong, finish strong.
“Once we get our energy flowing, we keep it throughout the game. We just have fun. It gives us good energy, we’re all confident. We’re all believing in each other. We’re all playing as a team and this is good energy for us to carry on forward.”
The Falcons, though, gave the Wolf Pack a good run for their money. They simply refused to go away and battled admirably on both sides of the ball despite being a program at the opposite end of the CIF SJS divisional totem pole.
Millennium scored their lone run of the game at the top of the fifth inning when junior Damien Muscat doubled into left field to bat home junior Patrick Walsh to make it 3-1 at the time.
The visitors were able to get just six hits out of the West bullpen but even that was enough for their offense to get into threatening positions.
A little earlier in the same inning, Falcons’ sophomore Christian Jacobo fired a hit deep into left field which would have given him an easy double before he decided to gamble and go for third base, resulting in a tag. Baseball is a game of fine margins like that and Millennium head coach Drew Reyes wants his team to learn from these early tests before league play starts.
“In games like this, you look for positives to remind the team that we’re only just starting the season and it’s league play that matters,” Reyes said. “That’s the whole point of playing teams like West and all these other bigger schools. I look for opportunities to play teams like this because they make us better.”
West got off to a great start against the Falcons at the top of the first inning with Bourke conducting the first of two clean three-and-outs of the late afternoon.
The Pack then opened the scoring at the bottom of the inning when Bourke singled to bring home Simms for his first of two runs. Trujillo made it 2-0 moments later when he recorded his first of three RBIs on a single to bring home senior Jonathan Torres.
Simms doubled into left field at the bottom of the second inning to bat in junior Jeffery Navarro-Lynch to make it 3-0 and that score held up until this rivalry match up got tense and testy late on.
Growing in confidence and with the feel-good factor ever present, West saw out the game with Navarro-Lynch on the mound and continued their welcome progress under Farfan who is intrigued to see what his team is really made of as the level of competition increases in the coming weeks.
Contact Arion Armeniakos at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 209-830-4229.
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