VISALIA — Central California trailed not once, but twice in the 2019 Major/60 Cal Ripken World Series opener on Friday, but overcame both deficits for an 11-5 victory over Pacific Northwest.
“They don’t panic,” Central California coach Carlos Perez said. “I think they were more nervous in the first inning and then in the final frames of the game they were pretty relaxed.”
The first pool play game at Riverway Sports Park was scoreless through the first two innings thanks to a defensive gem by Central California in the first inning. On a single to center field, Central California successfully relayed an 8-4-2 play to get the runner at home.
Pacific Northwest broke eventually broke the scoreless tie with a two-run single from Jon Lemire in the bottom of the third inning.
But Central California pitcher Aiden Redding got the team on the board with a deep RBI double in the top of the fourth inning after David Hilyard led off with a single. Redding also had a sacrifice fly in the fifth and picked up the win allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits in four innings of work.
“As soon as I felt it on that bat, I was like, ‘It’s gone,’” Redding, who had two RBIs, said.
Landon Silva, running for Redding, and Manny Souza eventually scored on a passed ball and an error by the shortstop, respectively. The team’s 3-2 lead was short-lived as Pacific Northwest came back and took the lead in the bottom of the frame with a two-run single.
Despite trailing again, the three-run inning seemed to loosen up the team at the plate.
Nathaniel Zackery started the fifth with a single to left, but ended on third base after a throwing error. Zackery was one of three players to have a multi-hit game. He was 2-for-3 with two singles.
Gavin Luna promptly tied the game with an RBI single and two batters later, Central California had three consecutive scoring plays beginning with Redding’s go-ahead sacrifice fly to right field.
“Like I said before, hitting’s contagious,” Souza said. “Everyone just kept following through. We just kept getting hits.”
Souza, who was named the player of the game for Central California, then hit an RBI single followed by Nicholas Trejo’s RBI knock to give Central California a 7-4 lead. Souza was 2-for-2 with a walk and run scored.
“I just kept thinking, ‘How am I going to get a hit? How am I going to get on base?” a humble Souza said.
With the bases loaded in the sixth, Preston King hit a sharp ball to the third baseman who couldn’t handle the ball and made an errant throw to first. It allowed Luna, Wyatt Bookout — who was 2-for-4 — Hilyard and even King to score to increase their lead to seven runs.
Redding started the game on the mound and kept hitters off balance by locating his fastball. He had three strikeouts and three walks. Central California’s Kazden Berna closed the game by pitching two solid innings allowing one hit and one unearned run.
“There’s two big kids on the team that couldn’t hit inside, so I just kept pitching it inside of them,” Redding said. “When I saw that I struck out three kids, I was like, ‘OK, I think I can do it.’”
Central California outhit Pacific Northwest 11-8 and made two errors to their four. All 11 of the team’s runs came in the final three innings.
“Timing and patience,” Perez said about the last three innings. “Their first pitcher had us off balance … we weren’t squaring up to the ball. In the third and fourth inning we got to him a little better and we continued doing it the rest of the game.”
Pool play continues today as Central California takes on Pacific Southwest at 5 p.m. Pacific Southwest won its first game in pool play 11-0 over Southwest.