Menlo 6, St. Katherine's 2
Date of competition: Saturday, February 25, 2017
POWAY, Calif. – The five-game series between Menlo College Baseball and St. Katherine College continued on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader, the first of two in the series. Menlo entered the day riding an 11-game winning streak and the bats were on fire from the 15 runs put up in game one of the series. The games on Saturday leaned more on the pitcher's side, as neither team scored more than six runs in a single game. Menlo scored four times in the top of the ninth to win game one 6-2, but could not mount a comeback in game two and fell 6-4. Menlo's record sits at 12-2 after the doubleheader, while St. Katherine is even at 8-8.
Game 1 Out of the gate, it was clear that game one was not going to replicate Friday night's contest whatsoever. Andrew Merken and Jesse Gonzales were locked in a pitcher's duel that was about as entertaining as it could have been. Menlo struck first in the top of the second after Jordan Getzelman singled to right field with one out. The rest of the rally would commence without a single hit. Getzelman was moved to second base after a balk by Gonzales, and then Eduardo Sanchez was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on. Both runners advanced ninety feet after a passed ball, and with Dean Aliamus at the plate, both runners would again advance on a wild pitch that turned out to be ball four. So, on the Aliamus walk, Getzelman scored and Sanchez moved up to third, giving Menlo a 1-0 lead. With two runners on, Menlo could not get a second run on the board after a pair of strikeouts ended the inning.
The only two runs of the game for St. Katherine were scored in the bottom of the third, and both were of the unearned variety. Justan Koch led off the inning with a walk, and AJ Beck came on to run for the St. Katherine catcher. Daniel Macias hit a bouncing ball to Menlo shortstop Julian Jarrard, who threw errantly to second base and resulted in everyone being safe, putting runners at second and third with nobody out. Gerrardo Torreblanca grounded out to second, scoring one of the runs and moving Macias to third. With two outs in the inning, Merken threw a pitch in the dirt that got away from Menlo catcher Andrew Cox and scored Macias from third. Two runs came in without a single ball leaving the infield, and St. Katherine led 2-1.
Jesse Gonzales took over from there. He did not allow a hit after the top of the third inning, retiring 15 of the final 17 batters he faced in 7 dominant innings. He allowed just the two hits, one unearned run, walked two and struck out nine over his outing, and left leading 2-1. In the top of the eighth, Menlo was able to tie the game off the St. Katherine bullpen. Nick Quejado led off the inning with a single, and Joe Gillette followed with one of his own. Dalton Maxwell made it three in a row with a single through the right side, scoring Quejado and tying the game at 2-2. Unfortunately for Menlo, they could not take advantage of runners being at the corners with nobody out. Two fly outs and a strikeout ended the inning, sending it to the bottom of the ninth tied at 2-2.
In the top of the ninth, Peter Saldana pinch hit for Cox with one out. Just as he did the night before, Saldana lifted one high in the air to left center field, and sure enough, it cleared the fence. His second collegiate home run in as many nights put Menlo up 3-2, and they decided to tack on a few more runs for good measure. Reed Kienle followed with a triple to center, and that forced St. Katherine to bring in Tyler Dick to pitch. Quejado drove Kienle home on a single, and then he stole second. After a Gillette walk, Maxwell struck again for the Oaks, driving a double down the right field line to score both runners. The 6-2 lead would stand for the remainder of the contest.
Merken was solid in his outing, going 6 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 unearned runs, walking 2 and striking out 10. He was relieved by Kevin George, who got his first win of the season, by pitching three innings of no-hit baseball, and striking out five. Menlo pitching combined for 15 strikeouts in game one of the doubleheader, proving this team can win in multiple fashions.
The Oaks were not as lucky in game two of the doubleheader, dropping the seven inning contest 6-4. It did not start out quite as pitcher-friendly as game one, and Menlo struck first again with a pair of runs in the first inning. Nick Quejado led off the game with a walk, and Joe Gillette was hit by a pitch, making it appear early on like the Oaks might start to pull away with this game. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, setting Julian Jarrard up with a sacrifice fly to right field, advancing Gillette to third. This proved to be important because on the very next pitch, Gillette broke for home and successfully stole home. He took advantage of the St. Katherine pitcher going out of the windup and stole it with ease, giving Menlo a 2-0 lead.
Thomas Cox was on the mound for Menlo, and he did not have his best stuff on this day. He allowed one run in the first inning to make it 2-1, and then gave up the lead for good in the bottom of the third. Cox allowed four runs on four hits in the third inning, highlighted by a two-run double from Adonis Morrison that gave St. Katherine a 3-2 lead. After a single from Austin Colvin scored the fourth run, Cruz Daddario entered to relieve Cox. Daddario got out of the inning but the damage was done, and St. Katherine led 5-2.
Menlo was able to chip away at the deficit with single runs in the top of the fourth and fifth innings. Eduardo Sanchez sent a laser out of the park in the fourth for a solo home run, making it 5-3. After another St. Katherine run in the bottom of the fourth, Menlo got that run back in the top of the fifth. Gillette led off with a single, and Jarrard doubled down the left field line with one out in the inning. Jordan Getzelman rolled over on one to the first baseman, but it allowed Gillette to score and make the game 6-4. The real chance for the Oaks came in the top of the sixth. Two walks with one out brought on Trevor Baca, left-handed reliever closer for St. Katherine. He walked the first batter he faced to loaded them up with one out. Maxwell popped out and Jarrard struck out, ending the inning and leaving the bases loaded. Menlo went down in order in the top of the seventh to end the game.
The five-game series wraps up on Sunday, with a morning doubleheader scheduled for 10 am. The first game is a nine inning game, while the second game will be a seven inning contest.
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Andrew Merken. Photo courtesy of Menlo Athletics.
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