It was a pitcher’s duel at the Forest Lake Christian baseball field Thursday as the Falcons and the Foresthill Wildfires opened Central Valley California League play with a pair of aces on the mound.
The Wildfires senior hurler Aaron Arnett and the Falcons’ sophomore slinger Hayden Piner both threw impressive games, but it was the Foresthill offense that capitalized on its few opportunities and took the game, 3-0.
“He should have got the W,” FLC head coach Jess Soria said of Piner. “He pitched really well, he had a great outing. He’s a sophomore, a lefty and someone who can mix it up. He had the curve working and had good velocity and I’m really proud he kept competing. Now we got to get our bats going.”
Piner had all his stuff working as he struck out 11 batters in six innings of work. Piner did walk four, but didn’t give up a hit until the sixth inning. In the end Piner allowed just one hit and one earned run.
In the top of the sixth FLC trailed, 1-0, due to a strange play in the third inning where a runner at third base stole home after there was some confusion as to what the count was and the FLC catcher headed to the dugout too early.
The Wildfires tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the sixth to make it 3-0. After Piner struck out the first two batters of the sixth, back-to-back walks and a passed ball put runners in scoring position. That’s when Foresthill’s Conner McCann broke up the no-hitter and broke the game open with a liner to right field that skipped past the Falcon outfielder, allowing two runs to score.
Arnett took care of business for the Wildfires in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings to earn the complete game shutout. Arnett struck out nine along the way, walked four and allowed five hits, but no Falcons ever crossed the plate.
“He’s a senior who’s pretty crafty,” Soria said of Arnett. “He knows how to play ball, so it wasn’t something where we were going to score a bunch on him but we had opportunities to open the door but didn’t.”
The Falcons did have opportunities, but each time it looked like they would plate a run the Wildfires came up with a big defensive play.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, FLC had two men on after a Jared Hankins single and Chase Augustino walk.
Piner stepped to the plate looking to help his own cause and ripped a liner toward right field, but the Foresthill second baseman made an outstanding jumping stab at the ball to log the out.
In the fifth, FLC threatened again when Logan Ray got a base knock and Kyle Soria drew a walk. Both runners advanced on a passed ball.
A Jacob Yarborough line drive was then snagged by the shortstop and he doubled Soria off of second to end the threat.
Kyle Soria led the Falcons at the plate with two singles, a walk and a stolen base. Ray added the one hit, Daniel Cuneo notched a single and Hankins had the Falcons other hit.
With the loss FLC drops to 0-1 in CVCL play and 2-3 overall. The Falcons will take the diamond again at 11 a.m. Saturday when they host Faith Christian.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.