The California Pintos baseball team (18-9) saw its season come to an end May 19 after a 5-0 loss to the Blair Oaks Falcons in the semifinal round of the Class 4 District 8 Tournament.
Despite the loss, the team still had a strong showing this season. Pintos head coach Steven Stock said the team played only around three games this season with the whole team, thanks to players being out due to injuries and other circumstances leaving the team not at full strength.
The team should have a lot of players returning next season, with only three seniors graduating this year; Stock said California's returning players can learn about how to make the most of their time practicing during next season.
"The biggest thing is that we have to learn from this year, how to be a little bit better at practice," Stock said. "We have to be a little bit better at time management. Meaning that, when you work for an hour, that you maximize production for an hour. Hopefully, we will do that next year as we return a lot of guys."
In the districts matchup, the Falcons took an early 2-0 lead after three straight hits to start an inning. Later in the inning, with two outs, the Pintos were able to get out of a bases-loaded jam, when Ian Peterson struck out the final batter on a full count.
In the top of third inning, California got its first base runner of the game after a two-out hit by Kaden Bax, but the Pintos were unable to keep the momentum going.
The Pintos were able to get a runner to second base in the top of the fourth inning after a two-out double by Tagen Higgins, but the Pintos were again unable to score a run.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Blair Oaks loaded the bases with two outs and a run was scored on a two-out walk to make it 3-0. The Pintos were able to escape the inning without giving up any more additional runs, however. The Falcons added their final pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to give the game its final score of 5-0.
In the top of the seventh inning, California was able to get two runners on base thanks to hits by Lucas Ash and Trevor Myers, but the Pintos could not get on the board and Blair Oaks held on to secure the win.
While the Pintos' offense struggled, the pitching and defense kept them in the game for most of the evening, Stock said.
"We are a good high school baseball team," Stock said. "We (have) some kids that can play well; when you get in jams, you have to throw the ball over the plate and if the kids field it, you have a chance to get out of innings, which we did," Stock said. "It was a good game and we had a chance until we gave them a couple (of runs) in the bottom of the sixth and that hurt us. But like I said, the core comes back, we have a good group of kids, we just have to learn from what we did this year and next year look to build a little bit better."
The Pintos had five hits in the game and one error. Blair Oaks scored its five runs on eight hits and had one error in the game. Peterson struck out four batters for California in three and two thirds innings, and Kaden Bax led the Pintos with two hits.