Sanchez keys Casa win
Chris Sanchez crafted an outstanding pitching effort in pacing host Casa Grande to a 2-0 win over league-leading Sonoma Valley on Tuesday.
Sanchez had everything working, throwing five perfect frames before the Dragons threatened with three hits in the top of the sixth inning.
The senior Gaucho left-hander had a little extra mustard on his fastball, and he was able to place his breaking pitches in the zone, striking out eight Dragon batters leading into the sixth inning.
He finally ran into a little trouble when Logan Mak lined a clean single into left field to break up the no-hit bid to open the frame.
A slick double play turned in by the Gaucho infield got Sanchez out of the difficulty, but it didn’t last long. A ground ball in the hole was quickly fielded by Joe Lampe, who gave Nick Orella a strong feed leading to the twin killing.
Sonoma Valley came battling back, however, on two more base hits. A double to left field by Max Handron put the potential tying runners aboard, and prompted a visit to the mound by Gaucho coach Chad Fillinger.
Sanchez got the last batter in the frame to bounce to Orella to end the trouble.
All the scoring by Casa Grande came in the top of the third inning. A long triple to the base of the right-field fence by the left-handed hitting Lampe got things started with no outs.
Noah Bailey followed with a run-producing double with the Dragon infield pulled in to prevent a ground ball RBI. Bailey ruined the strategy with a no-doubt hit that got between the Sonoma right and center fielders.
The line moved along against Dragon pitcher Joe Costanzo when Gaucho catcher Cole Santander smacked a line drive out of the infield to plate the second run of the inning.
Costanzo had runners on base throughout his six-inning stint with the Gauchos, finishing with eight hits for the afternoon. The Dragon junior kept his team in the hunt by getting out of trouble in the fourth and sixth innings.
Bailey and Orella had two hits each for the Gauchos, who knocked Sonoma from the ranks of the undefeated in Vine Valley Athletic League play. The Dragons now stand at 4-1 and tied with Petaluma for the league lead.
Defensively, the Gauchos got solid play through the afternoon, including a diving catch in right field by Jake McCoy to open the seventh inning.
Casa Grande improves to 3-4 in league play, but as one fan said leaving the Casa Ball Field, “It sure helps to make the season a little brighter.”
Last week brought both happiness and heartbreak for Casa Grande.
The Gauchos slugged Justin-Siena, 13-2, but then lost a tough one to Vintage, 5-4.
Sanchez pitched the win over Justin-Siena, working five strong innings. He allowed five hits while walking three and striking out six. Max Smedshammer and Cam Downing each worked an inning in relief.
Casa Grande scored four runs in the third inning and added scores in every inning for the rest of the game.
The Gauchos had just five hits, but accepted 11 walks.
Orella led Casa with two hits, while Cole Santander, McCoy and Downing had one apiece.
Casa Grande had the game against Vintage tied at 3-3 until the sixth inning when the Crushers scored twice to decide the game.
The Gauchos had just four hits in that contest.