After a loss to Durant ended Saladino Tournament play for the Chargers, they returned to their regular season with a 5-3 loss to Newsome.
After winning two out of their four games in the Saladino Tournament over spring break, Strawberry Crest returned to regular season action on Tuesday as they hosted a strong Newsome team that was looking to break out of a skid that saw four losses in their last six contests. Despite Newsome finding the scoreboard in just one inning and Crest mounting a late comeback attempt, the Wolves were able to hang on and escape with a 5-3 win over the Chargers.
Entering the night at 7-4 and looking to get back into the win column, senior Zach Redner got the start for the Chargers. In his last appearance on March 11, Redner allowed just two hits, three walks and two late runs while striking out nine across 6.2 innings in a 2-1 loss to Newsome, a game that featured a seventh-inning comeback for the Wolves. On Tuesday, the Chargers were looking to punch back.
After a ground out to second started the top of the first, Newsome put runners aboard with back-to-back singles, but Redner escaped the jam by inducing a double play ground ball to senior Arjun Nimmala at shortstop — flipped to second baseman Ray Allen Vasquez and fired to first to end the inning.
The Chargers were retired in order in the bottom of the first and Redner allowed just one baserunner in the top of the second, a one-out infield hit, before coaxing another ground ball that resulted in yet another picture perfect, inning-ending double play for Crest’s middle infielders.
With one out in the bottom of the frame, freshman Reuben Vasquez gave the Chargers’ their first baserunner of the game as he beat out a hard infield single to the left side, moving into scoring position as he stole second a few pitches later. A strikeout marked the second out of the inning and Vasquez moved to third on the final pitch of the next at bat, a passed ball that led to a walk for senior Damien Bennett — a passed ball that Bennett took advantage of when he raced to first and never broke stride as he made it up to second safely on the slow recovery from Newsome. Now with runners on second and third with two outs, the Chargers were threatening early, but a ground out ended the threat as Newsome escaped the jam unscathed.
In the top of the third Newsome broke the game open, taking advantage of an error and some timely hitting to get on the board.
After a ground out to second started the inning, a hit by pitch put a runner on first. A ground ball from the next batter was then mishandled, the error allowing both runners to reach first and second safely. A picture perfect bunt to the left side loaded the bases and the Newsome’s first run crossed the plate on the heels of a bases loaded walk following the next at bat. Still with just one out on the board, a double down the left field line cleared the bases and in the blink of an eye a tie ballgame had become an uphill battle for the Chargers as Newsome held a 4-0 lead. A ground out to third gave Crest their second out of the inning, but the runner advanced on the throw and the ensuing throw back to third was errant and allowed the run to score, pushing the Wolves’ lead to 5-0.
The Chargers showed life in the bottom of the fifth following a pair of quiet innings for both sides, looking to claw back into the contest after falling behind early. Senior Eli Vickers reached safely on a hit by pitch to open the inning, advancing to scoring position as senior Ray Allen Vasquez drew a four-pitch walk in the next at bat. An RBI double to right from senior Jace Raburn cut the Wolves’ lead to 5-1 and put runners on second and third for Nimmala, who wasted no time smoking a double of his own to the wall in right center, driving home both runs as he was thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a triple. A deep fly out to left and a ground out to shortstop ended the frame, but Crest had brought themselves back within arm’s length.
Both teams went down in order through the sixth and while Newsome put two runners on in the top of the seventh, they were unable to extend their narrow lead. And in the bottom of the seventh, still trailing 5-3, Vickers led off the game’s final inning with a walk. A strikeout put Newsome two outs away from victory, but Raburn battled throughout his at bat to draw a walk, putting runners on first and second for Nimmala who signified the potential game-winning run. Nimmala was walked to load the bases and move the tying run into scoring position, but a fly out and a strikeout ended the Chargers’ comeback attempt and closed out the win for Newsome.
The loss moves Strawberry Crest to 7-5 on the season but they’ll once again look to bounce back with a home game against 7-3 Chamberlain on Thursday.