The Forest Lake Christian baseball team used clutch hitting and solid pitching Thursday to earn its first win of the season, topping Foresthill, 9-2, at home.
The Wildfires opened the contest with a first-inning two-run dinger by Aaron Arnett to grab the early edge, but FLC pitcher Hunter Phillips soon settled down and didn’t allow another run all game.
Phillips went all seven innings for the Falcons, allowing just one earned run and five hits, while striking out seven and walking two.
“Right after the home run, I was like I just need to keep my composure,” Phillips said. “That’s a big thing with learning how to pitch. When you get down, make sure you get right back in it and stay composed.”
The senior righty allowed seven base runners after the first inning. The Falcon defense did a solid job of backing Phillips all game with two double plays and only two errors.
“I give all the credit to my defense they made a lot of plays,” Phillips said. “It makes me feel comfortable to just throw it when I know my defense has my back. The past few years we have had trouble with errors, but so far this season, we look good.”
FLC head coach Jess Soria said he was happy with the way Phillips pitched and the way his team stayed up after getting down early.
“The team followed right behind him,” Soria said. “(Phillips) didn’t get rattled, he kept his composure, hit his spots, and that’s the mark of a good veteran-type pitcher. He just buckled down, and we saw a good mature player out there. He found a groove, he took it one batter at a time, he didn’t get ahead of himself, and he gave us a chance to win.”
Phillips was also stellar from the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, triple, two runs scored and two RBIs.
It wasn’t long before the Falcons erased the Wildfires’ 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the first inning, FLC put two runners on due to Foresthill errors, then sophomore catcher Kyle Soria singled to load the bases. Junior shortstop Jacob Yarborough brought all three runners home with a double. Yarborough later scored on a two-out RBI single by Mike Rubio, putting FLC up 4-2 after one.
The next two innings saw no runs cross for either team as both pitchers settled in and found their respective grooves.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth that the Falcons blew the game open.
With two outs in the fourth, the Falcons got a double from Phillips, Kyle Soria was hit by a pitch, and Yarborough was intentionally walked to load the bases. On a 3-2 count, FLC first baseman Wils Riley shot a liner down the left-field line, plating all three runners and extending the Falcon lead to 7-2.
The Falcons scored two more runs in the fifth on a Phillips triple that landed just beyond the outstretched glove of the right fielder.
Foresthill threatened in the sixth and seventh innings, putting runners in scoring position in each frame, but Phillips remained unfazed and stranded five Wildfire runners in the final two innings to close the game.
The Falcons will get back to work Monday when they face Delta on the road.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.