By Jacob Bigley
Tuesday night came down to a pitching battle at Jackie Robinson Field between Valley Christian’s Brett Garcia (#17) and Maranatha’s Paul McAllister (#3), who both pitched complete games of all seven innings.
Village Christian jumped out to an early lead in the first inning thanks to a two-out single by Aaron Kirchner (#6). Kirchner had two consecutive steals, landing him at 3rd base when a balk from McAllister put Jack Struiksma (#10) on first. With two men on, Kevin Sainz (#15) smashed a high flying ball to center field, sending Maranatha’s centerfielder back towards the fence. The ball proved out of reach for the outfielder, allowing both Kirchner and Struiksma to score giving the Crusaders an early 2-0 lead.
After four scoreless innings the Minutemen fought their way back in the 5th. Zach Schradermeier (#6) led off with a single in between the shortstop and third baseman. After a steal to second base by Schradermeier, Garcia (#17) recorded his first walk of the game to McAllister (#3), allowing Maranatha runners on first and second. An infield fielder’s choice by Evan Chang (#12) resulted in Valley Christian forcing the runner out at second with men on first and third. Alec Ainger (#1) stepped up to the plate and hit a high flying ball in between the second baseman and outfielder. A miscommunication from the Crusaders resulted in the ball dropping between two players, scoring Schradermeier and Chang (#12) and tying the game 2-2.
It was a tied game heading into the 7th and final inning, with the Crusader’s last chance to put some pressure on the Minutemen. After an easy ground out, McAllister threw a low pitch that bounced past the catcher. The umpire declared that the ball hit the batter’s shoe and told him to take his base. It was a controversial call, as the batter didn’t flinch or seem to believe it warranted a walk; however, after meeting with the umpire, they decided to keep the initial ruling and declare that Jarod Trader (#12) was, in fact, hit by the pitch.
The seventh inning resumed with a ground ball tossed to first base for an easy out, but it allowed Trader to safely make it to second base. A wild pitch by McAllister caused Trader (#12) to steal third, which gave him the perfect position to score on RJ VanKampen’s (#13) hard groundball shooting between an infield gap, putting the Crusaders up 3-2. Another single from Jared Algra (#2) scored VanKampen. Now 4-2, the half of the inning ended with a strikeout.
Valley Christian took the field with Brett Garcia needing only three more outs for a complete game and win. He started off a bit shakily by throwing four straight balls, resulting in a walk to McAllister (#3). Garcia threw two more consecutive balls, including a passed ball that advanced McAllister to second base. The Crusaders’ coach took a timeout to talk to Garcia and decided to leave him in the game and let him finish what he started. Garcia would get the next three batters to fly-out, giving him the victory over Maranatha at a final score of 4-2.
The loss brought the Minutemen to 2-7, Valley Christian 4-5. These two teams play again this Thursday at Valley Christian High School at 4 p.m. for their final bout of the season. These two teams always seem to put on a game that is more entertaining than the last.