What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
The Walnut Creek Crawdads showed some strength on Wednesday with four home runs and six of their eight runs coming from the long ball. The Crawdads (9-3-1, 6-3 CCL) relied on three players to hit their first home runs this summer, including two in the seventh inning, to complete the comeback against the Humboldt Crabs (10-3) in a 8-7 victory.
Walnut Creek was down 7-3 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. None of this should have been possible because Humboldt right fielder Wyatt Reginato committed an error with two outs that allowed Walnut Creek second baseman Griffin Harrison to drive in a run and advance to second base. Center fielder Casey Cummings proceeded to walk, which put two runners on base for right fielder Brian DuRoff when he came to the plate.
DuRoff made Humboldt relief pitcher Clayton Ray pay when he deposited the ball over the right field wall to tie the game for the Crawdads. This home run allowed DuRoff to win Player of the Game honors and the right fielder talked about the pitch he saw on that game-tying homer.
“It wasn’t anything special,” DuRoff said. “It was the first pitch I saw. He kind of grooved a lefty heater with some arm-side run. I just took it to right and there was something behind it. It was nice to hit a little clutch homer for the boys and then Fellows following it up to go ahead. We ended up there. Nothing too special, but it was nice to finally see one go over. I was due.”
As DuRoff alluded to, the fun did not stop there. Walnut Creek left fielder Cole Fellows launched a home run to dead center to give the Crawdads back-to-back homers and their first lead of the game. Ray ended up with the loss, but the five runs in the inning were unearned because of Reginato’s error.
On the other hand, the Crawdads did not allow any unearned runs. However, Walnut Creek relief pitcher Ryan Featherston got lit up with four runs allowed with four hits and three walks in his 1 ⅔ innings of work. This outing put the Crawdads in a hole and DuRoff talked about the intensity of the game.
“This game was a little different,” DuRoff said. “It got a little chippy with them. We’ve got [Walnut Creek shortstop Matt] King. They’re going at him early in the game for running into a guy. Dudes on the mound were kind of chirping the whole game.”
King also had his first home run of the summer when he drove in two runs to chip away at the five-run deficit in the fifth inning. Before DuRoff hit his three-run bomb, King was a realistic candidate for Player of the Game with his three hits in five at-bats. Cummings hit a solo homer in the sixth inning, which means that each of the 1-4 hitters in the Walnut Creek lineup ended up with a home run on Wednesday.
Most of the damage for the Crawdads was done against the Crabs’ bullpen. Humboldt starting pitcher Gabe Tanner struggled with his command, allowing seven hits and three walks, but he was able to limit the damage by only allowing two earned runs off the King dinger. The starter also gave the Crabs some length with his five innings of work despite a lot of traffic on the bases.
On the other side, Walnut Creek starting pitcher Ryan Spalliero struggled in the first inning giving up a solo homer to Humboldt second baseman Colby Lunsford and a walk. However, he settled down afterward by only allowing one hit in his other two innings of work. Spalliero may have not been as dominant as his last outing on June 14 when he won Co-Player of the Game at Sonoma, but it was another solid start for Spalliero to keep the Crawdads in the game.
The Crawdads will hope to carry this momentum when they face the Crabs again on Thursday to wrap up a two-game series at Monte Vista High School. DuRoff talked about the importance of this game and what it could do for Walnut Creek in the near future.
“This one is definitely a different feel than just a normal summer game,” DuRoff said. “That comeback got us all fired up when we really wanted to get that one done. We’re looking to take it from them tomorrow.”