Catch Derail Nail and SLO the Blues

2015 Catch Game 23 Recap from So. Cal. FCA Baseball on Vimeo.

By: Myles Bridgewater-Jackman, Sports Information Director

San Luis Obispo, Calif. -- After traveling 150 miles, the Catch met the SLO Blues for the first of a three game set in San Luis Obispo. After breaking a four game losing streak against the Menlo Park Legends on Tuesday, So. Cal. looked to derail SLO’s seven game win streak. An outstanding start from Michael Stafford (Liberty University) was backed by potent offense that scored nine runs Wednesday night.

Stafford kept the Blues scoreless through four innings while the Catch plated six runs in the second, all coming with two outs in the inning. The Catch built their lead off of the back of the Josh Rojas (University of Hawaii) who continued his streak of reaching base safely in every game he has appeared. Rojas led off the inning with a single to right extending his hitting streak to 14 games and his on base streak to 20 games. Christian Magno (Drury University) later singled, sending Rojas on to third, before Cameron Miller (Baylor University) walked to load the bases.

Austin Yeoman (San Diego Christian) was unable to convert with the bases loaded, flying out to center, but Alex Jefferson (Missouri State University) watched four straight balls ending starter Brendan Nail’s streak of thirteen and two third straight scoreless innings. Only the one run should have scored in the inning but an error by the second baseman Garrett Giovanelli ended up having a huge impact on the course of the game.

KC Huth (West Virginia University), hit a routine grounder to Giovanelli that should have ended the inning, but instead went off his forearm and bounced into the outfield, allowing Magno and Miller to score. From there, things got out of hand for Nail and the Blues. Richard Cunningham (Baylor University) hit an RBI single to center before Esmay beat out an infield single on a ball that was hit deep into the hole at short, loading the bases once again. In his second at bat of the inning Rojas, knocked his second hit, this time, a to center field. The hit scored two and Rojas tested his fate, turning at first and making his way to second. The throw went to the cutoff man and the So. Cal. second baseman slid in to second. The ball beat Josh by a mile but the tag apparently was apparently not applied in time, allowing the inning to continue. Chance Gusbeth (Cal State Bakersfield) was unable drive in Rojas for his second run of the inning, but as the inning ended, the Catch were in charge of a commanding six run lead.

Stafford found himself in a bit of a jam in the fifth inning, Giovanelli hit a double over the head of Cunningham in left center that rolled all the way to the wall. During Brett Barbier’s at bat, Giovannelli advanced on a passed ball. Barbier then hit a line hugging RBI double down into left past the diving Cooper Esmay (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). Stafford K’d the next batter and appeared as if he’d have his third out of the inning when he induced a grounder to short, but after fielding it, Yeoman threw the ball away at first and allowed a run to score on the error. The So. Cal. starter did well to bounce back and limit the damage as he retired the side on a strikeout two batters later.

The Catch offense piled on in the eighth, as Rojas was able to drive in his third and fourth runs on his third hit of the game. After advancing to third during Gusbeth’s at bat, Rojas tried to come home on a single off the bat of Magno. Unfortunately the second baseman was gunned down, preventing him from scoring his second run of the game.

Stafford retired the side in order during the following half-inning, wrapping up his seven innings of work. Stafford finished allowing only one earned run on five hits and a walk, striking out seven along the way.

Rojas continued his great day with a leadoff double in the ninth, his fourth hit of the day, which raised his batting average to a staggering .408 on the season. Two batters later, Christian Magno drove in Rojas, to put the Catch up 9-2.

Despite allowing the first two batters to reach in the ninth, Billy Kirkpatrick (William Jewell) had no problem securing the victory and handing the Blues their first loss in eight games.

Up Next: With Wednesday’s victory against the Blues, the Catch moved past the stagnant Academy Barons, taking sole possession of second place in CCL South behind the LA Brewers. So. Cal. looks to secure their first series win of the season tomorrow, against San Luis Obispo at 6 p.m.