Casa Grande and Petaluma high schools did their bit to combat global warming Monday afternoon, chilling opposing bats with a pair of calm and cool left handers.
The only thing warm about the third meeting between the two rivals was the weather, as Casa senior Matt Garner and Petaluma sophomore Jonathan Nadale matched zeros through a rapidly played contest.
The only slip was a missed pop-up by Petaluma that allowed the Gauchos the game?s only run for a 1-0 victory. The win clinched a certain tie for the Sonoma County League championship for the Gauchos who can win the title by their lonesome when they conclude their regular season this afternoon at Analy. Casa is now 18-5 overall and 13-4 against SCL opposition.
Petaluma, which still has hopes of a North Coast Section playoff berth, is 13-10 on the season and 9-8 in league play. The Trojans conclude their regular season Friday with a home game against El Molino.
Pitchers ruled at Casa Grande Monday evening. Casa?s Garner stifled Petaluma through six innings and when he needed help, Brett McIsaac was just what coach Paul Maytorena ordered, coming in to douse Trojan hopes in a breath-holding seventh inning.
Nadale didn?t exactly match Garner pitch for pitch, but he did keep his composure and his curve ball intact, working into and out of jams in every inning, at times stopping the Gauchos just inches away from home plate.
The difference came in the fifth inning when Casa?s Scott Harkin spanked a double down the right field line with two outs.
Wylee Buck, Casa Grande?s designated speed specialist, took Harkin?s spot at second base. Joe Homen popped high halfway between home and first near the first base foul line. Nadale, catcher Chadd Krist and first baseman Rusty Seymour converged on the ball. They looked at one another. They looked at the ball. They were still looking when the ball plopped to the turf and kicked off Nadale?s glove and into foul territory.
The Trojan defenders then looked toward home, where they saw only Buck scampering across the undefended plate with the game?s only run.
To Nadale?s credit, he didn?t let the frustration bother him, as he worked out of the inning on a fly to right and pitched a scoreless sixth inning.
While the run was the only one the Gauchos garnered and the only one they needed, it wasn?t the only time they approached home plate.
In the first inning, Casa collected three singles by Cameron Pezet, Anthony Biasi and Nolan LaBrucherie, but failed to score when Trojan center fielder Dane Greco made a perfect peg home on LaBrucherie?s hit to shoot down Pezet.
In the fourth inning, Robert Morales tried to score from first base on an overthrow at first, but Petaluma right fielder Ross alertly backed up the play and Morales was eventually mowed down at home.
Meanwhile, Petaluma never even threatened Garner until late.
In the sixth inning, a one-out walk to Mark Dolcini and a two-out pass to Krist at the end of a marathon battle that lasted through five two-strike foul balls gave the Trojans hope, but a bouncer to third and a perfect peg by LaBrucherie took care of matters.
Things got hectic before they got finished.
One out into the seventh inning, Jake Burnett belted a line drive double to the left-center field fence.
Pinch runner Peter Raines remained rooted as relief pitcher McIsaac struck out Jack Norman on a fast ball that sneaked past him.
With two gone, Rusty Seymour rolled a single into left field, but Gaucho outfielder Anthony Biasi charged quickly and Raines did not even challenge the former catcher?s arm, remaining harbored at third.
He was still there when Ross looked at a third strike to give the Gauchos their second win in three tries at the Trojans this season.
The Gauchos had just five hits in the game, two by LaBrucherie, while the Trojans had only four, two by Greco.