Scott Hilbert did everything but win the game for Petaluma High School's varsity baseball Trojans Friday afternoon, and he came within a couple of feet of doing that.
Hilbert pitched a masterful three-hitter and belted a long double off the left-field wall that was within a yard stick of going out, but it wasn't enough as Petaluma lost, 1-0, to visiting Maria Carrillo.
The Trojans' trouble was that Maria Carrillo senior right hander Alec Rennard was every bit as dominating as Hilbert, allowing Petaluma just four hits and waling just one.
Neither pitcher was overpowering. Hilbert had just three strikeouts — two coming back-to-back in the second inning —, while Rennard fanned just four Trojans. However, both were masterful. Rennard allowed several fairly deep, but routine, fly balls, never being touched for any solid contact until the seventh inning. The Petaluma right hander, meanwhile, had Puma batters hitting mostly into the dirt. Nine Maria Carrillo batters were thrown out at first base, one on the back end of a nifty turned double play from shortstop Blake Patrick to second baseman Cameron Meyers to first baseman Jaymes Potts. Those three, along with third baseman Tommy Quinn, generally backed their pitcher staunchly, although both Patrick and Meyers made him face extra batters by booting routine bouncers.
Hilbert, who was pitching well toward the end of his junior season last spring, said he is trying to build on that momentum. "I've put in a lot of hard work," he said. "I'm dedicated to getting better every day." He said he threw the basics at the Pumas — fast ball, curve ball and change. However, he did note that he had two different curve ball varieties. "I threw the traditional 12-6, but then I have a sharper curve, more like a slurve," he explained.
Whatever he threw, it pleased Petaluma coach Paul Cochrun.
"He was great," the coach said. "He has worked very hard on his strength and endurance."
Unfortunately for Hilbert and the Trojans, his efforts weren't rewarded.
The contest's only run was carried home for Maria Carrillo by the game's first batter, Austin Martinez, who slapped a sharp single into left field. He quickly stole second and went to third when the belated throw went into short center field. A ground out to shortstop by Jake Scheiner sent Martinez home, and the scoreboard run column blinked for the only time during the crisply played game.
Maria Carrillo never again advanced a runner past second base. The Pumas had hope in the seventh when Andrew Vaughan led off with a single, but the Trojan twin kill took care of that little problem.
Meanwhile, Petaluma's bats were muffled by Rennard.
Potts slapped a single up the middle in the second inning and Meyers blooped in a hit in the fifth, but that was all until Hillbert almost won it in the last of the seventh.
One out into Petaluma's last swings, catcher Bubba Thomason got the Trojans' first really good hit of the afternoon, slamming a solid single into left field.
Hilbert followed with a long drive to left field that bounced off the high outfield fence. Hustling Maria Carrillo defensive work held Thomason to third base.
"I guess I need to get stronger," Hilbert said later. "Maybe if I had done one more set (of lifting) it would have gone over."