Casa Grande High School’s baseball Gauchos hit the jackpot in the third inning and just kept winning Monday afternoon, taking a 19-4 win over Rancho Cotate in the North Bay League opener for both teams.
The win was the second straight in hard-hitting fashion for the Gauchos who rallied last Friday to defeat highly regarded Livermore, 7-6.
The wins left Casa with a 4-1 record as the Gauchos head for Campolindo on Wednesday.
The league game against Rancho Cotate was a one-sided mess of Casa hits, Cougar errors and all sorts of weird happenings, including, but not limited to, several passed balls, a runner-interference call, a balk that resulted in a divided opinion between the two umpires, four hit batters and a smattering of head-scratching defensive decisions.
Things were already getting strange when Casa Grande took its swings in the bottom of the third inning in a 2-2 game.
During that endless half frame, strange morphed into plain weird.
Before Rancho Cotate could get back into its dugout, 14 Gauchos had batted, nine had scored and players on both sides were laughing.
Everybody in the Casa lineup helped in the Godzilla-sized inning in some manner and Rancho Cotate contributed to its own demise with three errors, a walk, a hit batter and two wild pitches.
A baseball cliché says hitting is contagious. If true, Casa is in the midst of a bat epidemic.
After the third-inning explosion, the Gauchos just kept swinging and making contact, scoring two more runs in the fourth, four in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
With no 10-run rule in the North Bay League, all either team could do was grin and keep playing, barely finishing before darkness descended.
Before it ended, Casa Grande got 14 players into the game and collected 18 hits. Despite the carnage, it might have been worse. Casa left 10 potential runs on base.
Hayden Klemenok had a huge game for the Gauchos, leading a parade of hitters with a 4-for-4 game that included a walk, four runs scored and three RBIs.
Hance Smith continued his season-long hot streak with three hits, two runs scored and an RBI. John Green, Quinton Gago and Chris Joaquim each had two hits, with Green also getting hit twice by pitched balls. Gago smashed a double, walked, scored twice and drove in two runs. Max Cerini had perhaps the hardest-hit ball of the game, crushing a triple off the center-field fence.
Given the huge support, four Casa pitchers cruised to the win.
Starting pitcher Parker Ruoff left in the top of the third inning with the game tied at 2-2 and one out. He was hurt by three walks and two hit batters.
Nik Kamages got the final out of the inning and gave up two more runs in the fourth, but by then Casa had blown the game open. Gago and Spencer Torkelson each pitched a scoreless inning, with Gago striking out the side in the sixth and Torkelson finishing off the win with a whiff.
It was a different story against a good Livermore team with Casa Grande having to rally from behind for two runs in the sixth inning, and Broc Burleson making the rally stand good with a shutdown final two frames.