The Casa Grande baseball team had a terrific day on Saturday. Not only did the Gauchos wallop city rival Petaluma, 20-7, to even the season series between the two teams, but they got the news midway through the game that the undisputed North Bay League title was clinched earlier in the morning.
It all happened on a warm day honoring the seniors in front of a big crowd on the Gaucho-campus diamond.
Previous NBL co-leader Maria Carrillo was dispatched by Cardinal Newman, 17-2, in a game played an hour earlier in Santa Rosa. When the news was announced, there were handshakes and hugs all around for a Gaucho club that was supposed to be rebuilding this season.
The game against Petaluma was lopsided from the first frame. The visiting Trojans, champions of the Sonoma County League, had an uncharacteristic sloppy day with the glove, and it spelled disaster for pitching starter Nick Andrakin, who surrendered six unearned runs in the first inning.
Overall, Petaluma was charged with five errors, but the Trojans also misplayed other routine balls put into play by the energized Gauchos.
Casa added seven runs in the fourth inning to take away any comeback hopes by the Trojans. Dylan Moore got the big hit in the frame by knocking in a pair of runs.
Casa Grande was credited with 13 hits compared to 11 for the Trojans, but the game was never closer than three runs. The fast-closing Gauchos have now won their fourth contest in a row and 13 out of their final 15 games.
Cole Santander and Justin Millard had the key hits in the big first inning for the Gauchos. Santander fell behind Andrakin, and was swinging late, but regrouped and hit a short fly ball into right field for a single that plated two runs. Millard followed with a triple.
Santander and Millard had two hits each. Millard and Moore finished with four RBIs each.
Gaucho starting pitcher Travis Morgan was greeted by a single by Danny Marzo in the first inning, but he stiffened and recorded two scoreless frames to pick up the win. Morgan improved his season mark to 5-1, and faced only seven Petaluma batters. Casa used a trio of pitchers.
Andrakin hit a booming double to knock in a couple of runs for the Trojans in the third inning. He wound up with a pair of hits, as did Porter Slate. Andrakin finished with four RBIs and improved his season batting average to a solid .448.
Andrakin was saddled with the pitching loss after pitching 3⅓ frustrating innings. His season record slipped to 6-2.
Casa Grande improved to 18-6 for the season with the non-league win.
The Trojans end the regular season with an overall mark of 16-8, including an earlier 7-2 win over Casa in the Boras Tournament.