The Forest Lake Christian baseball team accomplished a lot on Tuesday. Before honoring years of hard work and dedication from its outgoing class of seniors, the Falcons defeated Mesa Verde 4-2, avenging an early-season loss at the hands of the Mavericks.
And, while revenge is sweet, sending off the seniors with a victory in their final home game was much sweeter.
“So great to see our seniors who sacrificed so much get in and play,” Forest Lake head coach Jess Soria said. “It was fun to see the seniors go out with a W.” Playing their final game for Forest Lake Christian were seniors Yarborough, Logan Ray, Chase Augustino, J.J. Griffiths, Daniel Cuneo and Owen Swinney.
Starting pitcher Yarborough made the most of his final home start. He allowed two runs on five hits, five walks and struck out nine batters. He also picked off a runner in earning a complete-game victory in seven innings of work.
Forest Lake Christian started the scoring in the bottom of the first, as Kody Kennedy’s two-out, two-run single gave his team a 2-0 cushion heading into the second.
The Falcons extended the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third on a two-out RBI from senior Daniel Cuneo, giving Yarborough, a little more breathing room.
Brett Soria doubled to start the bottom of the sixth for the Falcons. FLC extended the lead to 4-0 on a two-out walk to Hayden Piner as the ball squirted away from Mesa Verde catcher Cameron Duncan.
After allowing a single to start the game, Yarborough went into cruise control.
He didn’t allow another hit until the sixth inning, when the Mavericks would finally put together a rally of its own.
Mesa Verde leadoff hitter Nick Rexin started the surge with a one-out single, followed by a double from starting pitcher Evan MacDonald. Chad Martz continued the outburst with a two-run double off of the right-field wall, cutting the lead to 4-2 and giving the Mavericks a desperately-needed glimmer of hope.
After plunking Justin Skouvgaard to put the tying run on first, Yarborough calmly recorded a strikeout and a groundout to end the rally.
“(Yarborough) was gritty,” Jess Soria said. “He hit a good stride where he pitched to contact ... he put the ball where it needed to be.”
Despite being shut down for most of the game, Mesa Verde did not go down quietly.
Duncan hit a one-out line drive up the middle, only to be robbed by a diving Yarborough off of the mound.
Pinch hitter Aaron Galben chimed in with a timely two-out walk, and the tying run made it to first yet again when Rexin reached on an error.
MacDonald came to the plate representing the lead run, and kept the crowd in suspense during the most crucial at-bat of the game, fouling off six pitches in the process.
Yarborough buckled down and retired MacDonald on a groundout to first to end the game.
“One thing about the guys that lead our team is that they don’t get rattled much,” Soria said. “(Yarborough) was determined to make his pitch and he got him.”
The Falcons are still eligible for a first-place tie in the Central Valley California League, and a playoff berth is already assured.
FLC travels to Victory Christian on Wednesday for its final regular season contest.
Mark Kendall is a freelance writer that regularly contributes to The Union.