Petaluma High's baseball Trojans came up 90-feet short in the Sonoma County League Tournament championship game last Friday night under the lights at Arnold Field in Sonoma, losing to tournament host Sonoma Valley, 5-4.
Down 5-3, Petaluma sent eight batters to the plate in the sixth inning, but got only one run out of the uprising, leaving the bases loaded with unfilled hopes of repeating as tournament champion.
Sonoma Valley, a 4-1 upset winner over league champion Analy in the tournament semifinals, did all its hurt to Petaluma in two big gulps.
Two runs scored for the Dragons on one wayward pitch in the first inning, with James Hess, on base with a force out, and single-boarded Dan Healey, both scoring when Petaluma pitcher Jaymes Potts and catcher Bubba Thomason missed connection on both ends of a pitch to Miles Hagen. Potts missed Thomason's glove with the pitch and Thomason missed Potts with a throw to the plate as he picked the ball off the backstop.
Sonoma had its only legitimate rally in the third inning, with Garret Walker and Jayson Strong both supplying RBI hits to a three-run rally. The damage might have been worse had not Petaluma freshman right fielder Luke Wheeless thrown Walker out at the plate trying to score from second on a hit by C.J. Vitale.
Other than those two innings, Potts pretty much had the Dragons under control. He allowed eight hits in the game, but five of those came in his two troublesome innings. He didn't strike out anyone, but had the Dragons mostly bouncing to the infield or hitting harmless flys into the spacious Arnold Field outer garden.
Sophomore Hunter Williams worked a scoreless seventh, allowing two runners on a walk and an infield hit, but left both Dragons stranded.
Sonoma pitcher Jimmy Flatt struggled to pitch the full seven innings for the Sonoma. He had only one perfect inning, the fourth, and Petaluma scored in four frames, but could never muster a full rally, getting just single runs in each of those innings.
Petaluma scored its first run in the bottom of the first inning in classic fashion on a hit by Blake Patrick, the first of his two, a sacrifice bunt by Corey Echols and hits by Thomason and Scott Hilbert. The hit for Hilbert was the start of a big final game in a Trojan uniform for the senior, who later doubled twice and flied out to right, going three-for-four for the game.
Wheless, showing more the poise of a veteran than the awe of a freshman in just his second varsity game, led off the second with a single to right and romped around to score on Patrick's long double to left in the second inning.
Hilbert's double and the first of two Potts' hits, an RBI single to right, gave Petaluma a 3-2 lead in the third.
After Sonoma had taken the lead back at 5-3 with its fifth-inning rally, Petaluma had a golden opportunity in the sixth, but the goose could deliver only one money egg. Hilbert started the inning with his third straight hit, and Potts put a ball into center field for a second safety. A force wiped Hilbert out at third and a strikeout seemed to thwart the Trojans, but Cameron Meyers finagled a walk after dropping behind 0-2 and Wheless took one for the team where he is best padded to force in a run. After getting ahead 3-0, a ball away from forcing in a tie, Patrick found himself full at 3-2, and struck a pitch soundly, but right to Sonoma center fielder Vinnie Albano and the Trojans forever finished a run short.