Bradley Smith stepped into the Petaluma High baseball hero-of-the-game spotlight last Saturday, ripping a single into right field to drive home the winning run in a 6-5 Trojan comeback victory over San Lorenzo.
Now 2-1-1 on the season, the Trojans have posted both their wins on walk-offs in the final inning.
There were multiple contributors that led up to Smith’s heroics in Saturday’s win over the Rebels. There also was more than a little sloppiness in the contest played under troublesome but never really raining skies on the Petaluma diamond.
Early on, the Trojans stepped all over themselves. They made two errors on the first play of the game, allowing San Lorenzo lead-off hitter Chris Torres to go all the way to third on what should have been a routine single to center field.
Before the Trojans managed to escape from their stumbling first-inning start, San Lorenzo had three runs on three hits and three walks, and starting pitcher Garrett Gehring was out of the game, replaced by Jake Duca who came on to get the last out of the inning.
As they seemed destined to do all season, the Trojans made up with their bats what difficulties they encountered in other aspects of the game.
Danny Marzo was safe when he hit the ball through San Lorenzo shortstop Gonzalo Rojas to start the Petaluma offense. Porter Slate singled to right and Nick Andrakin walked to load the bags with no outs. The Trojans got two of the runs home on Sam Brown’s single and a sacrifice fly by Smith to make it a 3-2 game before things settled down — at least a little bit.
San Lorenzo pitchers Michael Newton, Alex Marquez and Carlos Jimenez pitched in and out of trouble over the next five innings, as did Petaluma hurlers Duca and Andraken.
San Lorenzo picked up a run on a pair of hits and a sacrifice play in the third inning and another in the top of the fifth to expand its lead to 5-2.
Petaluma, meanwhile, was stranding runners in frustrating numbers until its turn to hit in the last of the fifth, when a walk to Jack Gallagher and consecutive hits from Marzo, Slate and Andraken combined with Brown’s sacrifice fly produced two runs and trimmed its deficit to 5-4.
Andrakin, the third Trojan hurler, got out of deep difficulty in the sixth when a walk and a double by Chris Giles put Rebels at second and third with one out. The Trojan righty escaped the jam with a pop-up behind the plate that the glove-talented Gallagher snared and a strikeout.
Finally, it all came down to the last Trojan swings, with the homeside still trailing, 5-4.
More confident than desperate, the Trojans quickly rectified the situation.
Marzo led off the inning with a solid single to right. Playing for a tie, Petaluma coach Jim Selvitella ordered Porter to sacrifice bunt. He carried out his orders to perfection, moving Marzo, carrying potential extra innings to second.
Andrakin slapped a single to right and, when the San Lorenzo outfield throw went directly to nobody, Marzo sped home to tie the game.
With Andrakin at second, Brown was walked on purpose to set up a potential force play, a strategy that was foiled when Smith sizzled a shot down the right-field line to finish off the Petaluma comeback.