California Pintos baseball won back-to-back games Saturday morning in Centralia.
In their first game, the Pintos played the Centralia Panthers. California struggled to score runs in the first four innings and left seven runners on base. However, California was able to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard with the help of their defense and the pitching of Martin Kilmer.
In the top of the fifth, California first baseman Hunter Berendzen hit a double to left field. Califorina right fielder Colin Althoff walked to first base to put runners on first and second with one out. California second baseman Tristan Nokes advanced both runners on a sacrifice bunt. California left fielder Jace Schreck walked to first to load the bases for Martin Kilmer. Kilmer hit a 0-1 pitch to left fielder for a two-run RBI single to give California a 2-0 lead. California's next batter, catcher Brayden Hallford hit a ground ball to second base that turned into an error. California scored two more runs off the error to take a 4-0 lead.
Centralia fought back and scored two runs in the fifth off an error and another run in the sixth to make it a one run game.
In the top of the seventh, California left fielder Jace Schreck reached first base on an error by Centralia's shortstop. Schreck stole second and third base later in the inning. California catcher Brayden Hallford came up to bat and Schreck scored California's fifth run during the at bat on a wild pitch from Centralia pitcher Matthew Robinson.
California pitcher Martin Kilmer closed out the game in the bottom of the seventh with two pop outs and a ground out two give California a 5-3 win over the Panthers.
Martin Kilmer pitched seven innings and allowed three runs on five hits with one strikeout. Kilmer also batted 2-4 with a run and two RBI's.
California first baseman Hunter Berendzen batted 1-4 with a run scored.
California right fielder Colin Althoff batted 1-3 with a run scored.
California left fielder Jace Schreck scored two runs.
Pintos head coach Steven Stock said California was frustrated in the early innings of the game for not scoring runners who were in scoring position. Stock said the players took that to heart and came back in the fifth inning by putting the ball in play and taking advantage of their scoring opportunities.
"All in all, we were frustrated in the first game because we started the first and second innings with runners on first and second with no outs and we couldn't get them home. We just had to do a better job with that. The kids hung in there and battled. We were able to score some runs late and get the win," Stock said. "Martin pitched a great game and we were facing a pitcher that throws around 70 miles an hour. We had to have some discipline to stay back and put the ball in play. That hurt us early. Then we were able to put the ball in play in the fifth inning and they helped us a couple of mistake defensively. When you put the ball in play, good things happen."
In their second game against the Elsberry Indians, California got off to another slow start and trailed 5-1 after two innings.
California had runners on first and third with one out in the top of the third inning when first baseman Hunter Berendzen came to the plate. Elsberry's catcher Sean Phillips commited an error during the at bat allowing the runner, second baseman Cameron Combs, to score from third. After Berendzen struck out swinging, California right fielder Colin Althoff came up and hit an RBI double to right field to make the score 5-3.
With two outs against them in the top of the fifth, California loaded the bases with back-to-back walks and then a single from Althoff. Designated hitter Tristan Nokes stepped with the bases loaded and was hit by a 3-2 pitch to make the score 5-4. California third baseman Jace Schreck batted next and gave the Pintos a 6-5 lead on a two-run RBI single to center field. After Elsberry made a pitching change, California's next batter, center fielder Martin Kilmer, hit a triple to right field and scored to more runs to make it an 8-5 California lead.
The Pintos added two more runs in the sixth and another run in the seventh to defeat Elsberry 11-5 off of 10 on-answered runs.
California pitcher Hayden Kilmer came in for the Pintos in the third inning and got the win by allowing no runs on three hits with three strikeouts.
California right fielder Colin Althoff hit 3-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
California third baseman Jace Schreck hit 2-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs
California center fielder Martin Kilmer hit 2-4 with three RBIs
California second baseman Cameron Combs hit 2-3 with two runs scored.
Stock said what turned the game around against Elsberry was California hitting the ball in the strike zone and creating a string of hits off those pitches.
"Elsberry is a really good ball club and they jumped on us 5-1. Our pitching kept us in the ball game and our bats began to wake up after that. We put together six pretty good innings to come back and beat a team like that," Stock said. "Simply put, their pitchers threw the ball in the strike zone and our kids went up and attacked the baseball. Sometimes it's easier to face a little better pitching when they throw in the strike zone because if they miss their target a little bit, it's still a ball that you can hit. The next thing you know, our kids realized that and we played some pretty good baseball."
With their two wins Saturday, California now has a season-high four-game winning streak with five games remaining until the playoffs. Stock said that if the Pintos can continue to play good baseball like they did Saturday, they will have a fighting chance to win in the playoffs.
"If we can put that kind of game on the field, we're going to compete the rest of the year and that's the big thing for us. We want to go out there and compete and give ourselves a chance to win. Games like today can only help us," Stock said.
California will play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Knob Noster. California will host their senior night at 5 p.m. Friday vs. Tipton.