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Top Speed slugs Fresno six times to start season

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The Top Speed collegiate baseball team has its Golden State Collegiate Baseball League season off to a sizzling start in quest of its fourth straight league championships.

Top Speed, which plays its home games at St. Vincent High School, completed a six-game sweep of the Fresno Athletics on Monday afternoon with a 22-3 win to end the first week of its season with an 8-0 record.

Five Top Speed pitchers allowed just three hits over nine innings in winning its season opener against Long Beach, 7-0. Daniel Tolano from Tennessee Wesleyan pitched five strong innings, allowing just one hit while striking out nine. Garrett Dodd from Arkansas at Monticello and Caleb Farmer from Colorado Mesa clubbed home runs, with Dodd going 3-for-5 and driving in two runs. Second baseman Andres Rios from Arkansas at Monticello, right fielder Ben Rhodes from Alabama-Huntsville and Farmer each had two hits.

There was more good pitching for Top Speed the next day as the Petaluma team wrapped up a quick two-game set against Long Beach with a 13-2 win. This time, five Top Speed pitchers gave up four hits and two runs but had the game well in hand. Axi Parra, from Graceland University, worked five innings, giving up just two hits and a run, while walking one and striking out four. Farmer slugged two home runs in that game and Rhodes belted one out, as did Jordan Johnson from Arkansas at Monticello. Farmer and Jack Dennis from Tiffin University each had three hits.

That brought Fresno to town for six games in four days.

Friday’s series opener was the most competitive, with Top Speed holding on for a 5-2 win. Rhodes had a couple more hits in that game and catcher Dakota Phillips, another Tennessee Wesleyan player, belted a home run. Lefty Colin Lacey was the five-inning moundsman in that contest, allowing just one hit with two walks and five strikeouts.

Over the weekend, the Top Speed bats sizzled. In two seven-inning games on Saturday, the host team won, 15-0 and 14-1.

Rio ripped a home run in the first game Saturday and Dennis and Phillips each supplied three hits. Braden Chambers, another Arkansas at Monticello player, allowed just two hits in four shutout innings. Drew Downing, a catcher from Sonoma State, Aaron Gaela from Cal State Monterey and Robert Zurawski from Hillsdale College all went deep in the second game.

There was more of the same on Sunday, with Top Speed winning 10-1 in seven innings and the second game called after five with Top Speed in front 19-0.

Dennis, Johnson and Boston Romero from Cumberland University belted home runs in the first game. Johnson had three hits in the contest. In the second-game slugfest, Dennis and Phillips each hit two out and Steven Nice from Marshall University connected for his first homer of the season.

Justin Demary from Minot State allowed just one hit over the full seven innings in the first game, striking out eight. In the short second game, Brandon Donley from Cañada Junior College showed Fresno some impressive heat, recording nine of the needed 15 outs via strikeout. He gave up three hits.

Top Speed finished off Fresno on Monday. Dodd and Brady Weiss from Arkansas at Monticello each hit two home runs in the 18-hit Top Speed assault. Zurawski, Rios and Brian Ray from Arkansas at Monticello all went deep. Parra and Frankie Fitzgerald from Colorado Mesa split the pitching in the five-inning game, combining to allow just four hits.

Top Speed plays a home-and-home set against the Atwater Aviators this weekend, playing two at Atwater on Saturday and two at St. Vincent on Sunday. Games both days are scheduled for noon and 3 p.m.