VISALIA — Last time Central California and Pacific Southwest faced each other, it was Central California hurting itself with errors and sloppy play. The same thing happened on Saturday as a disastrous first inning set the tone for the rest of the game as Central California lost 7-4 at Riverway Sports Park in day two of pool play in the 2019 Major/60 Cal Ripken World Series.
Central California (1-1) made a total of four errors in the game and was also uncharacteristically sloppy on the defensive end. They failed to communicate in the outfield and struggled to field bunt attempts seamlessly — all things they normally do without a hitch.
“Every time we play [Pacific Southwest] they play us tough,” Central California coach Carlos Perez said. “We just fall apart defensively. Like I said before, you make mistakes against good teams they’re going to capitalize and that’s what they did today.”
Wyatt Bookout got the starting nod for Central California, but struggled in the top of the first inning. He walked four batters and made a wild pitch. He needed 34 pitches to get through the frame.
The defense didn’t do him any favors with back-to-back errors which loaded the bases. Central California did manage to limit the damage to three runs with a tag at home and spectacular diving play by Carlos Perez in right field.
“Just read it and just lay out,” Perez said. “Just be Superman.”
Perez also got the offense started when he drew a one-out walk in the third inning after falling behind 0-2. He fouled off fastballs until he was able to take first base.
“You can read the ball when it’s coming from the pitcher’s hand,” Perez, who was 1-for-1 with a run, said. “I knew I couldn’t catch up with his fastball, so I just kept fouling off until he gave me balls.”
Gavin Luna followed with a double and Wyatt Bookout cashed in with an RBI single to trim the lead to two. David Hilyard then scored Luna on an RBI ground out. After Preston King walked to put runners on the corners, Aiden Redding singled to tie the game.
Pacific Southwest (2-0) regained a one-run lead in the fourth on an RBI ground out. It stayed at one run after relief pitcher Kazden Berna came in with the bases loaded and got the batter to fly out to third baseman Nicholas Trejo in foul territory.
“I faced that team I know how to pitch against them,” Berna said. “We needed to get quickly out of there and I can do my job and throw strikes. If they catch it, they catch it. If they don’t, they don’t.”
The lead didn’t last long as Trejo hit a leadoff double in the fourth and Nathaniel Zackery’s RBI ground out scored pinch runner Landon Silva to tie the game 4-4.
Mistakes hurt Central California in the final two innings when a dropped pop fly allowed two runs to score in the fifth and the inability to cover first base appropriately on a bunt attempt cost them another run in the sixth. Of the seven runs they allowed, only two were earned.
“Errors was what killed us,” Berna said. “[Pacific Southwest] got maybe two or three hard hits, but a lot of them were errors.”
Bookout pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed four runs — two earned — with two strikeouts and five walks. He was 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI and run. Berna pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed three unearned runs with two strikeouts and two walks.
“I thought I was hitting the outside corner very well,” Berna said about his outing. “They couldn’t really catch my fastball, so I just kept throwing it high … where they couldn’t hit the speed.”
Preston King was 2-for-2 with a walk and was named the Ron Tellefsen Player of the Game for his team.
Central California will face Southwest today at 2:30 p.m. Southwest is 1-1 in pool play after defeating Midwest Plains 7-2 on Saturday.
“We got to shake it off and move on,” coach Carlos Perez said. “We got to forget about it, start clean and hopefully get the momentum going tomorrow early and keep it going all the way through the rest of the pool play.”