The Coast Union baseball team’s winning rally in the seventh inning of Friday’s game against Washington Union has to rank up there with more dramatic local baseball finishes in recent years. The two teams were locked in a 0-0 tie going into the final frame March 10, but the Panthers scored two runs in the top half of the seventh.
Then, in the bottom of the inning, the Broncos got a series of gifts from the Panthers as they loaded the bases on a pop single to right field, a passed ball, a wild pitch and a pair of walks. After a strikeout, with the bases loaded and one out, the Panthers’ pitcher walked in a run. The next Bronco hitter, Riley Kennedy, popped a bunt down the first-base line that the first baseman couldn’t handle cleanly, which brought in the tying run.
With the score tied, 2-2, Thor Ronemus stepped into the batter’s box and was promptly hit in the back with the pitch (for the second time in the game), bringing the winning run home to a roar from the locals. That’s not exactly tearing the cover off the ball, but baseball games present capricious moments and mysterious happenings, and the fans go home with either pumped fists or sad faces.
In this case, those in the large contingent from Fresno went back to their Central Coast motels wearing frowns but hoping for a better show Saturday. For Coast Union, Kennedy had three hits and an RBI. Auggie Johnson had a pair of hits (including a double) and drove in a run; Chase Volz and Emany Plasencia each had a hit and scored a run.
Panthers 4, Broncos 1
In an interesting coincidence, the two teams once again battled to a tie going into the seventh inning. This time it was 1-1 and, as they did Friday, the Panthers scored in the top of the inning. It was then up to Coast to match the three runs scored by Washington Union.
But this time the Broncos were not up to the task, as the No. 7 and 8 hitters in the order took called third strikes, and the No. 9 hitter grounded out. The final score was 4-1 Panthers.
Coast pitcher Chase Volz only gave up six hits, but the biggest one was a line-drive double in that pivotal seventh inning that scored two runs. A third run scored on an errant throw in the infield.
Panthers’ lefty pitcher Steven Rodriguez also gave up six hits, but his pitches kept Bronco hitters off balance and prevented more than one run from scoring.
The Broncos are 2-2 in this early season. The team opens up Coast Valley League play April 4 against Shandon. The next home game for Coast is at 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 17, against Avenal. It will be broadcast on KTEA-FM (103.5).