On a mild spring afternoon when the ping-ping of batted baseballs replaced the pitter-patter of falling rain drops, Casa Grande’s Gauchos took an impressive step forward in their quest for a North Bay League championship, defeating Montgomery, 10-5, on the Viking diamond in Santa Rosa on Monday.
The win kept Casa Grande undefeated at 3-0 against NBL teams and improved its overall record to 7-4. Montgomery dropped to 1-3 in league play and 4-10 overall.
It was an afternoon of heavy hitting, with Casa Grande batters spraying balls all over Montgomery’s spacious yard, collecting 14 hits in total. The Vikings officially had eight hits, and they might have had more had they not belted so many line drives right at busy Casa outfielders.
Casa Grande pitchers Travis Morgan and Zack Orella, working on short rest after pitching in St. Francis’ Elite 8 tournament the week before, didn’t overpower the Viking hitters, but they managed to get the job done despite some defensive problems in the Gaucho infield.
Morgan gave up four runs on six hits and a walk in three innings. Orella threw four innings, allowing a run on three hits with one strikeout.
The task of the Gaucho pitchers was made easier by a six-run Casa Grand third-inning explosion that pretty much decided the game.
Joe Lampe, Aaron Van Tighem, Cole Santander, Ibai Guadron and Joey Loveless all smashed singles, interrupted only by a force out, in the rally. Still, the assault might not have been so disastrous for Montgomery had not a catcher’s interference call nullified a potential inning-ending double play. The catcher’s miscue tacked another two runs onto the rally, making it 7-4.
Montgomery was never able to recover.
The middle innings were like the eye of a storm, with relief pitchers Orella for the Gauchos and Wyatt Randall for the Vikings keeping the opposition away from home plate if not off the base paths.
Casa Grande resumed pinging away in the top of the seventh, putting the game firmly in the win column with a three-run rally. Noah Bailey, Dylan Moore, Lampe and Van Tighem had hits in the eruption.
Montgomery managed to delay the inevitable with a mini-rally and a run in the bottom of the seventh, but a burst that included three hits and the fourth Casa error of the game was short-circuited by a double play started by pitcher Orella.
Lampe had three hits, and Bailey, Van Tighem and Loveless each had two in the slugfest.
Elite 8 success
Last week, playing in its second tournament in as many weeks, Casa made an impressive showing in St. Francis High School’s Elite 8 tournament played in Mountain View, winning two out of three games.
Nik Kamages and Morgan combined to pitch the Gauchos to a 6-3 win over St. Mary’s of Stockton in Casa’s first game. Kamages worked the first five innings, allowing just two runs on six hits, while Morgan finished, giving up a run on two hits in the final two frames.
Guadron and Cameron Downing led Casa at the plate with two hits each.
Tournament host St. Francis shut Casa Grande down, 6-2, with Lancer pitchers Joseph Schott and Jackson Yandle allowing the Gauchos just five hits.
Two of the Casa hits came from Downing, who drove in both Gaucho runs in the second inning to temporarily tie the game at 2-2, before St. Francis took the lead for good with three runs in the bottom of the inning.