Baseball squad begins BVC play, splits Napa series

Home loss undermines defensive road victory

By Dylan Collier, Staff Writer

The Comets faced off against Napa Valley College in a home and away series on March 1 in Kentfield and played the second game Thursday at the Baseball Field. 

Contra Costa College (5-7 overall, 1-1 in the Bay Valley Conference) split the series by winning on the road against the Storm (8-7 overall, 1-2 in the BVC) and losing at home.

The teams were equally matched as the winner of each game was determined by a two-run margin — CCC won 4-2 on March 1 and lost 9-7 on Thursday.

Comet baseball coach Brian Guinn said because Saturday’s game at Mendocino College was rained out, it was rescheduled for Monday, weather permitting.

As of press time, the team’s next game is scheduled for Thursday against Laney College at 2 p.m. in Oakland.

After winning on the road March 1 the Comets sought another victory on Thursday, but Napa jumped out to the lead in the first inning with one run.

“We kind of dug ourselves a hole today and had five errors on top of that,” Guinn said. “They had a player that got that one hit right on the line and hit the chalk — it’s a game of inches sometimes.”

In the top of the fifth, Napa’s left fielder Cody Marshall scored on an error committed by shortstop Jamal Rutledge. Later the Storm’s first baseman Austin Fitzpatrick flied out to right field while their shortstop Tarren Dahlgren tagged up and ran home.

The Comets, now trailing 3-2, brought in relief pitcher Justin Tonge in the top of the sixth to close out the inning, but Napa wasn’t done making an offensive dent in the scoreboard.

Napa Valley pitcher Jack Gamba singled allowing third baseman Logan Garrett to run home from third. The game spiraled out of CCC’s control at this point when Storm shortstop Tarren Dahlgren singled in first baseman Triston Foley who had been on second base.

The damage kept coming when Gamba scored on a fielder’s choice play. In all, Napa widened the gap, scoring three runs in the sixth, to put the score at 6-2. 

The home team showed signs of life when left fielder Eric Whitfield started off the bottom of the sixth hitting a single and a subsequent double, crushed by Comet right fielder Evan Ray.

This play advanced Whitfield to third base and first baseman Allen Ressler kept the offense going with a sacrifice fly for Whitfield to run home. At this point, the Comets were within three runs of Napa, at 6-3. 

“It was a curve ball low and away,” Ray said. “It was a good hit. I kept my hands back and drove it to right field, right in the gap.”

In the bottom of the seventh Comet second baseman John Velasco hit a sacrifice fly to center field for third baseman Bryan Perez to score making it 6-4.

But Napa wasn’t done scoring as second baseman Ben Phim drove in catcher Oliver Weaver in the top of the eighth inning. The Comets couldn’t stop the bleeding as Napa drove in two more runs to put the score at 9-4.

The Comets kept fighting into the bottom of the ninth when Whitfield singled to advance Velasco to third bringing center fielder Bryce Hutchings home.

The next batter Ray singled helping Whitfield to advance to second sending Velasco across home plate.

“We came up a little short today,” Whitfield said. “But we rallied back in the bottom of the ninth and I had a nice hit in that last inning. I stayed out in front of the pitch and was able to keep my hands back.”

In the first game on March 1, the contest remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when the Storm scored their first run to put them momentarily in the lead 1-0.

CCC responded in the top of the fifth inning when Comet first baseman Chris Brue hit a solo home run, followed by Velasco drawing a walk, and then stealing second base.

The two-out rally continued when Whitfield singled to bring Velasco home from second base.

Napa knotted the game in the bottom of the fifth, but the Comets scored another run in the top of the sixth, and another in the  top of the eighth.

For two more innings the Comet pitching was dominant, preventing the Storm from scoring any more runs for the remainder of the game. CCC held its lead and won the game 4-2.