Play of the Game: Clutch two out, two-run double by Michael Brandi extends the Menlo lead to three.
The Oaks piled 12 runs on 12 hits to take the first of four in a conference series against Concordia University, beating the Cavaliers 12-5. The 12 runs were tied for the most that Menlo has scored this season, as the team improves to 3-6 in the Cascade with an overall record of 6-15.
"We swung the bats very well today, and if we can continue to do that, we can be successful" commented Menlo Head Coach Stefan McGovern on his team's offensive production. "Our guys are learning from their mistakes and are starting to handle adversity well."
After jumping out to a 1-0 1st inning lead, the Oaks suffered a setback in the top of the 4th. With runners on first and second and one out, Concordia's Mike Cero roped an RBI double into right center, tying the game at 1-1, while putting runners on second and third. After a walk to Sheldon Austria loaded the bases, Menlo's Derek Martinez picked up a huge strikeout on Ben Talbot for the second out. Martinez was one batter away from allowing just one run in the frame, but a clutch two out, two-run single by Nathan Douglas put the Cavaliers on top 3-1.
The Oaks cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning, and then erupted for four in the 5th to take a commanding 6-3 advantage. Ty Finley led off the inning with a leadoff single and pinch runner Kaimi Haina advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sam Shapiro, one of five successful Menlo bunt attempts on the afternoon. Then after a balk moved Haina to third with one down, Mickey Phelps knocked him in with a fielder's choice, in which Haina beat the throw to the plate from Concorida second baseman Nathan Douglas.
A pass ball pushed Phelps to second, where he was then brought home on an RBI single off the bat of John Hanley. After Cavaliers' starting pitcher Mitch Ludtke picked up the second out of the inning, Will Pierce was awarded first on catcher's interference to put runners on the corners with two down. Michael Brandi, who has been so impressive this season with two out, continued that success with a two out, two-run double to drive in Hanley and Pierce, extending Menlo's lead to 6-3. Brandi would go on to deliver a second, two out, two-run double in the 8th, finishing the afternoon with a team high four RBI's as part of a 2-for-4 showing. Brandi now leads the Oaks with 16 runs batted in.
Concordia plated a run in the 6th, thanks to a solo home run by Mike Cero, trimming the Menlo lead to 6-4. Cero ended the contest going 3-for-4 with two RBI's and two runs scored.
The Oaks took their 6-4 advantage into the 8th inning, where the Cavaliers put together one final attempt at knotting up the score. After Menlo reliever James Jensen got the first out of the frame, the junior from Castro Valley allowed a single to Sean Myrom and a double to Jared Young to put runners on second and third with only one out. Jensen bounced back with a critical strikeout on the aforementioned Cero, before giving way to freshman reliever Alex Tenorio, who looked to end the Concordia threat. Tenorio induced pinch hitter Ryan Rodriguez on a grounder back to box, putting a cap on the Cavalier threat.
The Oaks would go on to score six runs in the bottom of the 8th, sending 11 men to the plate, while pounding out five hits in the inning. One of the runs came on a Will Pierce sacrifice fly, as the senior first baseman seemed to do everything right at the plate today. Pierce was not retired in five trips to the dish, driving in two runs, and scoring two runs as well.
"Lately I've been working on my approach, trying to hit the ball more to right-center. I kept my hands inside, drove the ball to the right side and the good results happened from that," claimed Pierce on his successful offensive performance.
From a team standpoint, Pierce was upbeat about the way the club performed this afternoon. "We have been talking the last week or so about how we need to get better as a team, and today was a perfect example of that," remarked the native from Bellevue, Washington. "We moved guys over, picked each other up, just an overall great team win."
Derek Martinez earned his first victory of the season, pitching seven innings of four run, six hit ball, while striking out seven Cavaliers. Mitch Ludtke suffered his second loss of the year, pitching 5.2 innings, allowing six earned on six hits.
A doubleheader is on the books for tomorrow, (March 10) as games two and three of the four-game set will take place at Cartan Field. The first of two will begin at 12:00pm.