Pioneer High School baseball team wins first game of crosstown series against Woodland High School – Daily Democrat

After losing two out of three Golden Empire League games against Woodland High School last season, the Pioneer High School varsity baseball team wanted to prevent that from happening for the second year in a row.

They got off to a good start Tuesday evening in game one of the series, thanks to a great third inning and a strong effort from starting pitcher Matias Michel. The Patriots (5-2, 4-0 GEL) rallied from an early 1-0 deficit to come back and defeat the Wolves (5-2, 3-1 GEL) 6-3 at Clark Field.

“You never want to start 0-1 against anyone in the league, but it’s always good to win the first game of a three-game series,” Pioneer head baseball coach Craig Marquez said. “Woodland week is always fun. The kids all know one another after playing with one another for so many years.

“In a few games this season, we started off slow in the first inning and then picked it back up, so it’s something we have to correct so we can come out firing all seven innings.”

The Patriots and Wolves entered the crosstown three-game set in great form after sweeping Mesa Verde and Rio Linda last week, respectively.

Led by Michel and junior Drew Van Court, the Patriots smashed the Mavericks by a combined score of 46-3. Michel had 3 RBI in game one, four clean innings on the mound, and 8 strikeouts.

In game two, Van Court tossed five innings, allowing a hit and striking out 6, while Sammy Sanchez led the way with the bat, knocking in 2 runs.

“With all the rain, it feels like we are still so early in the season,” Marquez said. “We are trying to get pitchers arms in shape and get hitters going against live pitching. It’s hard to play league games so early on without peaking yet.”

The Wolves worked their way through a much closer sweep with 6-3, 7-6 and 3-1 wins. In game one, freshman PJ Pinegar led the way for the Wolves at the plate with 3 hits, while David Tanner threw six innings, allowing 7 hits and 3 earned runs. In game two, Tanner had a great day at the plate, leading the Wolves with 3 RBI. Aiden Lopez pitched seven strong innings in the finale, only allowing 3 hits.

“It adds some excitement and intensity when two teams come in with undefeated records,” Wolves head coach Danny Eoff said. “It goes to show why this game would be great to have later in the season as a tune-up for playoffs, but it shows the quality of baseball players we have here in Woodland.”

The Wolves got off to a quick 1-0 start in the bottom of the first inning without even having to register a hit on Michel, thanks to a walk, hit by pitch and another walk.

Follwoing Dylan Ramirez’s walk, the Wolves managed to work him over to third base after Aidan Olsen reached first.

Knowing they’d have to manufacture some runs against Michel, Olsen took off toward second base on a steal attempt. The throw was off-line, allowing Ramirez to take off toward home plate and score the game’s opening run. Luckily for the Patriots, Olsen was thrown out at third base, ending the inning and chances of any more danger.

“It was a dream scenario to have our guys come out and gain confidence and get the jitters out,” Eoff said. “To win games in the GEL, you will have to get scrappy and score some runs while being overpowered. This is how we can win ball games against tough opponents.”

Following a quiet second inning from both teams, the Patriots got to work in the top of the third. Senior Ben Reis kicked off the inning by safely reaching first base. Junior Landon Dahler moved him over a base on a single before fellow junior Luke Ferreira loaded the bases.

Michel then came up with a chance to amend the run in the bottom of the first and greatly helped out his cause by blasting a 2 RBI single into right field, scoring Reis and Dahler. He reached second base on an off-line throw home to try to nail Dahler.

Junior Sammy Sanchez came up to continue the damage with a single of his own, scoring Ferreira and Michel and making it 4-1.

“That’s how we’re going to have to win games, by getting players on and moving them over,” Marquez proclaimed. “I thought we had a few more chances to put up bigger numbers, but we fell short. It’s just a matter of maximizing when we get base runners on and scoring them.”

Van Court then stepped up to the plate and blasted a stand-up double that reached the right field fence. This allowed Sanchez to easily score from first base and give the Patriots a 5-1 lead. With Michel on the mound, that might as well have been a 10-1 lead.

“Giving up big innings is never fun,” Eoff said. “They earned half of them, and we gave them half of them. It brought us back down to earth and showed us we must play better baseball. With the caliber of players in our program, these are lessons we will learn along the way. It’s the growth we have to learn as a young club.”

In the bottom of the third, Wolves junior Joseph Cadotte picked up the team’s first hit of the game, racing up the basepath after a liner into right field. However, despite the promising start, Michel got out of the inning unscathed once again.

In the top of the fifth inning, senior Christian Canchola scored the sixth and final run for the Patriots, who eventually held on to the 6-3 win.

The Wolves did score 2 consolation runs courtesy of Ramirez and Pinegar in the bottom of the sixth inning, but it was not enough to mount a serious comeback.

“It’s not the way you want to start the series, but with the squad we came in with, knowing we are young and the underdogs, I am proud of them,” Eoff said. “If you take away that big inning there in the third, it’s a different game. Matias just threw a great game, however, and overpowered us.”

Michel ended up pitching 5.1 innings, allowing 3 hits, no earned runs and striking out 9 batters.

Game two of the series is set for Thursday at 4:15 p.m. at Pioneer High School.

“We are feeling good,” Marquez said. “Game two is another chance to go out and play baseball, so that is always good. Drew Van Court will be on the mound for us.”

“I’m looking forward to game two to see how we respond,” Eoff said. “We are going to see a great arm in Drew Van Court. He is committed to a D1 program for good reason. This is the next challenge and battle for us, and I think the guys are up for it.”

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