Casa Grande High School's opportunistic Gauchos made enough out of almost nothing to defeat Petaluma, 2-1, Tuesday afternoon in what will be the only varsity baseball meeting of the spring between the crosstown rivals.
Casa Grande's hit total could be counted on one finger. But that lone safety, a hustling infield hit by Zack Shimek, led to a third inning run. The second Casa run scored off a walk and aggressive base running in the top of the seventh inning. Petaluma made an already exciting game ultra exciting with a run in the bottom of the inning and had a potential tie at third and a potential win at first before sophomore relief pitcher Eric Parnow saved the day and the game.
On a dark and gloomy (not to mention cold) afternoon, Petaluma and Casa Grande put on their customary shinning diamond show, warming the Petaluma field with the intensity of their rivalry that was reflected on the importance of every pitch.
Hard luck Petaluma right hander Scott Hilbert, for the second time in as many pitching starts, was masterful. He had Casa Grande batters off balance and lunging all afternoon. He hurled the distance, allowing only the one hit while walking just one. He struck out the side in the first inning, but whiffed only one more the rest of the way as Casa batters mostly hit infield bouncers or soft flies to the outfield.
In his previous start, Hilbert allowed just three hits to Maria Carrillo, but lost, 1-0.
Casa Grande junior Dominic Garrihan was equally dominant for Casa. Garrihan was perfect through the first three innings, setting nine Trojans down in order. That number grew to 10 before Cameron Meyers worked a walk one out into the fourth inning. It wasn't until the fifth that Jaymes Potts shot a single to center for the only hit allowed by Garrihan in his five innings of effortless work. He had seven strikeouts and only the one hit to show for his five scoreless frames.
Garrihan left leading, 1-0, with the difference being a Trojan fumble-fingered top of the third inning when the Petaluma handed Casa a run.
Shimek led off the inning with his infield hit, a roller that could conceivably have been prevented by a more aggressive effort by the Petaluma third baseman. Petaluma followed with an infield boot to put runners at first and second. Casa's Isiah Ayla tried to give himself up with a sacrifice bunt, but Hilbert air mailed the throw high over first baseman Potts' straining glove as Shimek scored.
What had all the makings of a Petaluma disaster was averted when second baseman Blake Patrick, shortstop Tommy Quinn and first baseman Potts teamed up for an inning-ending and rally killing double play.
That lone run stood good until the final frantic frame, although the Trojans kept the intensity building with tangible threats in the fifth and sixth innings.
After Potts' single busted up Garrihan's no-hit hopes to start the fifth, Quinn walked, but Casa second baseman Ayala made a nice stop and back-hand pitch to first to retire Brandon Wallace and the next two Trojans added to the chill with whiffs.
Matt Becker replaced Garrihan to start the sixth inning and was greeted with a single to right by Patrick, just Petaluma's second hit. A nice sacrifice bunt by Meyers and a wild pitch put a Trojan tie at third base, but the run never got home. Bubba Thomason, perhaps Petaluma's best all around hitter, fought through a long at bat, at one point fouling off six straight pitches, before striking out. A harmless fly to right off the bat of clean-up hitter Hilbert ended the inning with Patrick left disappointed at third.