Pintos hold off Eldon for fourth consecutive victory

(Democrat photo/Evan Holmes)
Hayden Kilmer allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in four innings in California's win over Eldon.
(Democrat photo/Evan Holmes) Hayden Kilmer allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in four innings in California's win over Eldon.

California Pintos baseball was on a roll going into a key game against conference and district rival Eldon on March 26.

The Mustangs defeated the Pintos in the district championship game last season 8-1. To keep their momentum for this season, the Pintos needed to secure a victory.

The Mustangs had two runners on first and third base with no outs in the top of the second inning. The Pintos' defense caught the runner from third base stealing home for an out. However, an errored throw to first base gave the Mustangs another scoring chance. Two batters later, Eldon catcher Lincoln Salsman hit a single to right field to give Eldon a 1-0 lead, but he was picked off at second base to end the inning.

In the bottom of the second, California got the bases loaded with no outs courtesy of two walks and a bunt single. The runner on third base tied the game 1-1 on a wild pitch by Eldon pitcher Devin Hardy. Two batters later, California pitcher Hayden Kilmer hit a 0-1 pitch to the shortstop, but an errored throw to first base enabled two runs to score and give California a 3-1 lead.

The Mustangs had the bases loaded in the top of the third inning, but California escaped the inning without allowing a run. In the bottom of the third inning, Eldon commited two errors that put California second baseman Cameron Combs on third base. However, the Pintos were able to bring Combs home.

The fourth inning saw Eldon cut the California lead to 3-2 after a lead-off single and back-to-back errors by the Pintos. The Pintos got their two-run lead back in the bottom of the fourth after another Eldon error and three consecutive walks.

California pitcher Hayden Kilmer ran into early trouble in the fifth inning by loading the bases with no outs. California head coach Steven Stock decided to make a pitching change and inserted Will Edwards as his new pitcher, while Kilmer took over Edwards' position at third base.

The substitution payed off as Edwards retired Eldon's next three batters to keep California ahead 4-2. The Pintos also left three runners on bases loaded in the fifth inning.

However, Edwards and the Pintos defense retired the side in the sixth and seventh innings, with center fielder Alex Bews making a diving catch to end the game, giving California a 4-2 win and a 4-0 record.

For California, pitcher Hayden Kilmer allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in four innings on 84 total pitches. Kilmer also scored one run on offense. Relief pitcher Will Edwards allowed no runs on no hits with four strikeouts in three innings pitched on 31 total pitches. Second baseman Cameron Combs batted 1-3 with a run scored. Designated hitter Sam Turner batted 1-3.

For Eldon, pitcher Devin Hardy allowed four runs on one hit with three strikeouts and five walks in four innings pitched on 85 total pitches. Relief pitcher Braden Wrye allowed no runs on one hit with one walk in two innings pitched on 32 total pitches. Designated hitter Jacksen Williams batted 1-3 with a run scored. Center fielder batted 1-4. Third baseman Braden Bennett scored one run. Eldon commited eight errors and left eight runners on base.

Stock said his team did a good job of capitalizing off of the eight errors the Mustangs commited. He also considered Edwards' pitching performance from the fifth inning on the most critical point of the game.

"The way to mark up against a good team is to make them pay for their mistakes and we were able to do that. We gave up a run here and there but the kids held themselves together and we got a nice win over a good ball club," Stock said. "We were up 3-1 and they loaded the bases with nobody out and we were able to get out of it without them scoring. That was really the key of the game. Our defense was making plays when we needed to make them. We did a better job tonight of putting the ball on the bat and they didn't make plays with a few bad throws. We're feeling good about where we are and we're looking to keep it going."

This week, the Pintos will play at Linn on Thursday, a double-header with Tipton and Jamestown on Saturday and a home game with Belle on Monday.

photo (Democrat photo/Evan Holmes) Relief pitcher Will Edwards helps the Pintos escape a bases-loaded fifth inning against the Eldon Mustangs. Edwards did not allow a run or a hit in three relief innings.
photo (Democrat photo/Evan Holmes) Center fielder Alex Bews (right) made a diving catch to end the game against Eldon and secure a 4-2 win for California.
photo (Democrat photo/Evan Holmes) Second baseman Tristan Nokes batted 1-3 and scored one run against the Eldon Mustangs on March 26.
photo (Democrat photo/Evan Holmes) Designated hitter Sam Turner hits a line-drive single to advance a runner in the fifth inning on March 26.
photo (Democrat photo/Evan Holmes) Courtesy runner Evan Turner scores a run on an error by the Eldon Mustangs in the third inning.
photo (Democrat photo/Evan Holmes) Catcher Brayden Hallford reaches first base on an error for Eldon's left fielder.