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One stop short

SACRAMENTO – The winds howled and both teams were at the mercy of the baseball gods, as the Bear River Bruins with their backs to the wall in a must win first game Tuesday at Dan McAuliffe Memorial Park in Sacramento.

The Bruins, who were looking for a return to the section championship game, first had to take two from East Union. But Bear River could not hold a first inning 9-run lead, as the Lancers emerged with a 12-10 series-clinching win.

A wild first inning by the Bruins looked like a walk to a first-game victory, as the inning consisted of six singles, one walk, one hit batter and three Lancers errors – all of which sent 13 batters to plate, while Bear River broke the game open for a 9-0 lead.



Leading off the bottom of the first inning with no score, James McCririe hit his first of two singles in the inning to start the Bruins rally. It was a hitters paradise as Austin French followed McCririe’s single with his own single. Stephen Hilton worked a base on balls to load the bases and Drew Loftus was hit by a pitch, which allowed McCririe to score the Bruins first run of the game.

Then three straight singles by Vince Viola, Chad Smith and Brendan Casey gave the Bruins a six-run lead. A Lancer throwing error and McCririe’s second single of the inning brought in two more runs and the Bruins were off to what appeared to be an insurmountable lead.




The Bear River faithful fans started thinking of what they were going to eat between this second and the third game later that evening. However, their joy was very shortlived. Viola, Bear River’s senior pitcher and MVP of the Pioneer Valley League, was ready to take command and get his teammates to the next game.

However, the Sacramento Delta breeze had other plans this late Tuesday afternoon.

With the wind picking up in intensity, the Lancers sent 12 men to the plate and scored eight of their own runs. East Union capitalized on five singles, two walks, a wind blown double to right center, a sacrifice fly, two wild pitches and another wind aided deep fly to left center that resulted in a stand-up triple. A pitching change was made by the Bruins and junior Scott Runte came in and retired the next batter on a strikeout with tying runner on third base. Runte went on to finish out the contest and recorded eight strikeouts.

With the score now 9-8 after two innings, the Bruins came back with a single run in the third inning with singles by Kyle Waldman and Drew Loftus, for a two-run edge at 10-8.

But in the top half of the fourth inning and with Runte sailing along in fine fashion with a first batter strikeout, the game was decided by the Lancers, as Garrett Fisher came to the plate and hit towering 405-foot home run over the deepest part of the left-center field fence.

The home run by Fisher seemed to affect Runte, as he walked the next two batters and allowed a base hit by Steven Weddington and another wind blown double by John Campa that brought in two more runs for the 12-10 final score.

Runte retired the Lancers easily in the next three innings, however the Bruins could not mount any sort of a charge against the Lancers’ winning picture Marshall Swift.

The Bruins went down one, two, three in the bottom of the seventh, which ended Bear River’s year with a 17-10 record.


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