The Nevada County Fast Pitch softball playoffs got off to a wild start Thursday at Memorial Park as the No. 6 seed Gold Country Automotive upset No. 3 seed Eva’s All-Stars, 15-14, in the first round of the single elimination tourney.
Gold Country controlled the game through the first four innings, accumulating a 10-3 advantage, but then the wheels came off as Eva’s All-Stars rallied with eight runs in the bottom of the fifth to take an 11-10 lead. Luckily for Gold Country Automotive, they’re the type of crew that knows how to put the wheels back on.
Trailing by one with their postseason lives on the line, Gold Country rallied to tie it in the sixth when Matt Paruszkiewicz scored on a two-out infield single by Dillon Hadley.
Hadley was impressive at the plate and on defense, making several acrobatic catches in left field and going 3-for-4 from the plate with a triple, a run scored and an RBI.
Paruszkiewicz was a bright spot at the bottom of Gold Country’s batting order, going 2-for-2 with a triple, two walks, four RBIs, a stolen base and two runs scored. The slight second baseman came up huge in the top of the seventh with a one-out, bases-clearing triple to give Gold Country a 15-11 lead.
Also contributing from the plate for Gold Country was Justin Nicholson with two base hits and two runs scored, Ray Saclolo added base hit and accounted for three RBIs, Mat Johnson laced a triple to right center and finished the day 2-for-2 with an RBI and three runs scored, Adam Custer belted a two-run home run in the third, and pitcher Mark Michaels helped himself out in the third with an RBI base knock.
Michaels earned the win for Gold Country after pitching the first four innings, then relenting to relief pitcher Saclolo for 1 1/3 innings, then returning to get the final five outs.
The win for Gold Country Automotive advances them to Thursday’s semifinals against the winner of Wednesday’s first round matchup between No. 2 seed JMS Builders Bulldogs and the No. 7 seed Dental Wellness Center.
Eva’s All-Stars, who won the league title in 2011, took a while to get warmed up, but when they did, they were red hot. In the third, Eva’s All-Stars exploded for eight runs, seven of which came before an out was recorded. The No. 3 seed took the lead for the first time on a one-out bases loaded sac fly by Josh Van Matre. The veteran catcher also hit a two-run shot over the center field fence in the bottom of the seventh to bring Eva’s All-Stars to within two runs.
Eva’s All-Stars first baseman Kevin Fontana would add an RBI single to pull his team within one run. Fontana finished the day 3-for-5 with four RBIs.
With the winning run on second and two-outs, Eva’s All-Stars’ comeback came to a close with a pop out to shallow right field.
Contributing from the plate for Eva’s All-Stars was Mark Summers with a 2-for-5 day, including a double, two runs scored and an RBI, Russ Newnan with two hits, including a double, Tyler Phillips with a 2-for-3 day, including two walks and two runs scored, Brian Fontana added a two-RBI base hit and Nick Freitas went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
The loss eliminates Eva’s All-Stars from the tourney.
The remaining two first round games will be played Wednesday at Memorial Park starting at 6:30 p.m. The two semifinal games will be Thursday starting at 6:30 p.m., and the championship game will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Park.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.