WATSONVILLE — Both the St. Francis Central Coast Catholic Sharks and the Soquel Knights unleashed their star pitchers on Tuesday in a battle between the number one and two teams respectively in the SCCAL.
Safe to say, St. Francis’ Fresno State bound Dillon Houser got the better of Soquel’s Chris Viall, who is committed to Stanford.
The Sharks proved that they are the top team in the SCCAL with a dominant 14-2 win over the Knights on Tuesday afternoon in windy Watsonville.
St. Francis (17-4, 8-0) lit up Soquel’s (8-9-2, 5-2) 6-foot-9 starting pitcher for 11 hits and 10 runs in four and a thirds innings.
Dillon Houser went five and a third innings and gave up eight hits and one earned run.
The stage was set for a pitchers battle after both finished the first inning with two strikeouts, but in the second inning David “Digger” Gugale hit a shot into right field that road the windy skies all the way past the wall for a home run and the game’s first score.
The Knights answered the Sharks by playing small ball as both Stephen Vasquez and Andrew Schmidt hit singles to get on base. Troy Miller then got the Knights on the board by laying down a sacrifice bunt to bring in Vasquez.
It looked like a classic was brewing in Watsonville through the first three innings, but then Gugale came up to the plate to start the fourth inning and it was over.
Gugale, Houser and Nick Ciandro loaded the bases with singles to get the inning started for the Sharks. Josh Rodriguez delivered by smacking a Viall fastball into center field, that almost cleared the wall for a homer, to bring in Gugale and Houser to stretch the lead to two runs.
R.J. Zuniga, Jonathan Carmona and Calvin Anderson-Nakagawa each brought in a run before inning’s end to give the Sharks a five run cushion.
The Sharks weren’t done yet.
Viall started the fifth inning by hitting Houser and walking Rodriguez and Jacob Cardona to load the bases. Zuniga came up, and like a well oiled machine, sent Houser and Rodriguez flying around the bases to up the Shark lead to seven runs.
It was the last pitch that Viall would throw, but the Sharks didn’t care who was on the mound for the Knights.
Sahid Valenzuela welcomed the relive pitcher with a three-shot home run that made the score 11-1. Gugale added another run with a sacrifice fly to bring in Carmona.
The Sharks tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning and Jack Peoples came in to close the game.
Valenzuela went 4-5 with a homer, four RBIs and a run. Zuniga also had four RBIs for the Sharks and finished 3-4 with a double and two runs. Rodriguez was 2-2 with three runs, two RBIs and two walks. Gugale had two RBIs of his own and scored twice.
Caleb Fidiam finished 3-4, with an RBI and two stolen bases for the Knights.
These winning ways are something new for the Sharks as they’ve won more games this season then they won all last season. With all four of their losses coming against teams out of the Central Coast there is a possibility that they can go undefeated in SCCAL play. They have three though match-ups in Scotts Valley, Aptos and a rematch with Soquel to end the season, but first they will play Santa Cruz on Friday.
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