Forest Lake Christian baseball player Daniel Cuneo is “one tough guy.”
That’s what Falcon head coach Jess Soria said of his junior third baseman after he was plunked three times in Forest Lake Christian’s 13-8 home victory over San Juan.
“It happens,” Cuneo said. “Nobody really tries to hit a guy.”
Despite the bean balls being unintentional, Cuneo wore three pitches in his first three plate appearances Thursday. Cuneo also reached on an error and was intentionally walked, making him 0-1 with a 1.000 on base percentage in five plate appearances.
Cuneo isn’t the only Falcon (7-2) who will be icing baseball-shaped bruises. Sophomore pitcher Kyle Soria was hit by a pitch in two different plate appearances, including one that ricocheted off his batting helmet as he tried to escape an inside pitch.
The lack of control was obvious from the San Juan pitching staff, which as a team walked 13 batters, had nine passed balls and beaned five Falcons. But FLC pitcher Kyle Soria also struggled at times. Despite striking out 12 San Juan batters, Kyle Soria also walked five batters and hit four in 6 2/3 innings.
“I blame the mound,” Kyle Soria said jokingly.
Four of San Juan’s eight runs were unearned, and all came off Kyle Soria.
The sophomore was pulled with one out left in the game, and freshman Mike Rubio finished the Spartans off with a strikeout.
Thursday’s matchup between the Falcons and the Spartans was the second meeting this week with FLC throttling San Juan 14-5 Tuesday.
In the first inning, the game looked like it would be heading in the same direction after the Falcons scored three quick runs. Logan Ray opened the Falcons’ half of the inning with a walk and was later plated on a Jacob Yarborough grounder. Kyle Soria, who laced a single up the middle, later scored on a passed ball, and Cuneo, who was on after getting tagged, took second and third on passed balls and was plated after an error allowed Cody Kennedy to reach.
The Spartans charged back in the second inning with three of their own. San Juan loaded the bases to open the inning, then outfielder Charles Stamey ripped an opposite-field single that scored two. Stamey later scored on an FLC error, tying the game at three apiece.
The two offenses went quiet for a spell, tradeding scoreless half-innings before the Falcons erupted in the fourth. FLC sent 14 batters to the plate in the fourth with the first six reaching and eventually scoring. Hits from Wils Riley, Yarborough, Rubio, Hayden Piner and Ray along with several walks and hit batsmen led to the eight-run inning that put the Falcons ahead for good.
FLC added a couple of insurance runs in the sixth with Kyle Soria and Yarborough scoring on a passed ball and an error, respectively.
San Juan mounted a minor comeback in the seventh, scoring three runs and loading the bases for the No. 3 hitter. But Rubio shut the door on any happy ending San Juan may have imagined, getting the Spartan batter to whiff on three pitches.
After the game, Jess Soria expressed happiness at the way his team was patient at the plate.
“Everybody sees baseball differently,” he said. “What I want to do is keep the pressure on the pitcher.”
FLC certainly did that, putting multiple runners on in= each inning but, with that, also stranding 14 runners in six innings.
“That’s frustrating,” Jess Soria said. “When that happens, you have to just keep working through it, and eventually we warm up and get the bats going, but we can’t continue to do that, especially with Woodland (Christian) coming up.”
On the day, the FLC offense impressed with nine hits, 13 runs, and 13 drawn walks. The Falcons were led by Riley, who went 2-for-2, and Yarborough, who also tallied two hits.
“Wils is tearing the cover off the ball,” Jess Soria said. “He is by far our best hitter.”
The Falcons get a long break with next week being Forest Lake Christian’s Spring Break but return to action April 8 against Sacramento Waldorf.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.