Cats rally, topple Pitman in Turlock

Written by The Union Democrat Sports Department February 27, 2013 09:31 pm

The Sonora Wildcat baseball team rallied from a four-run, first-inning deficit on Tuesday to defeat host Pitman 6-5 in a thriller.

After suffering through some control issues in Pitman’s big first inning, Sonora hurler Ryan Stevenson dominated the Pride and struck out 16 on his way to a complete game victory, his second of the season in two games. 

“We didn’t start real well,” said Wildcat head coach Scott Johnson. “We weren’t real focused. Stevenson struggled a bit with his command in the first inning and that combined with an error and a double and we were down 4-0. But Ryan comes right back out in the second and strikes out two of three hitters and then struck out the side on the third.”

The Cats chipped away in the second inning. Evan Estes singled and Ryan Dies walked. After a pair of strikeouts and a double steal, Tyler Helm smacked a  clutch two-run single to left.

The Cats struck again in the fifth. Gino Balestrieri walked and Justin Payne and Rocky Rozadilla each singled to load the bases. Sonora then got some help from Pitman as two wild pitches resulted in two runs to tie the game.

After starting the rally in the fifth inning, Balestrieri ended Sonora’s rally in the sixth with a one out, two-run double that put the Cats ahead for good, 6-4.

Pitman rallied in the bottom of the seventh. Their first two batters reached on a single and walk. After a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Stevenson fanned the next two hitters. The Pride scored a run on a throwing error and then earned a walk to put runners on first and third with two outs.

“Then the next guy comes up and smashes the first pitch, but foul,” said Johnson. “Ryan then threw him two curveballs and finished him off.”

The victory was Sonora’s second straight to open the season.

For the Wildcats, Stevenson went 1 for 2 with two walks, Payne went 2 for 4, Helm went 1 for 2 with two big RBIs and Balestrieri went 1 for 3.

“The good news is we got a win,” said Johnson. “But we still need much better focus. They struck out 16 times, but we struck out 15 times, that’s way too much. But it was a nice win and I’m proud of the kids for the way they battled and came back.”

The Wildcats will next host a pair of games, on Friday vs. Escalon at approximately 5:30 p.m. and Saturday against Ceres at 1 p.m.