The Healdsburg Prune Packers only committed three errors in a CCL game once in their first 13 contests this season, but they have now done it twice in back-to-back matchups to lose the series to the Walnut Creek Crawdads.
Walnut Creek first baseman Ryan Brome started the ninth inning by reaching base via an error, which was costly for the Prune Packers as Brome would come around to score on a walkoff single from right fielder Joey Donnelly. It is the second walkoff for the Crawdads in the last week as they were able to score three runs in the last two innings to beat the Prune Packers 5-4 on Wednesday.
The Crawdads found themselves in an early deficit after Walnut Creek starting pitcher Ryan Spalliero allowed a three-run home run to Healdsburg third baseman Joey Kramer in the third inning, which put a damper on Spalliero’s last outing with the Crawdads this summer. This ended up being the only offense for the Prune Packers, but it seemed like it would be enough with the way the Healdsburg pitching looked.
Healdsburg pitchers Andres Galan and Chris Stamos combined for seven innings and nine strikeouts with two runs allowed, but neither of them were earned. Galan still has not allowed an earned run in 17 innings this summer and he gave up a season-high in hits and walks with three apiece against the Crawdads. Both of these pitchers play for Cal Berkeley and that familiarity may have caused some trouble for some of the Walnut Creek hitters.
“They definitely had my number early on,” Donnelly said. “A couple of my Cal teammates actually. Chris Stamos was getting me with the lefty breakers. At this time, you just have to forget about those. Try to reset and get another good pitch to hit.”
Donnelly did not get on base with his fellow Golden Bears on the mound, but he took advantage when Healdsburg decided to put in relief pitcher Gary Hall. Even though Hall allowed two earned runs in the eighth inning to tie the game, the Prune Packers decided to keep him in for the ninth. Hall was tagged with the loss after giving up an unearned run off Donnelly’s hit and the Cal product saw the pitch he was looking for.
“Matt [King] laid down a great bunt in front of me to set the table for me,” Donnelly said. “He [Hall] missed with a heater up and away. I don’t think I’ve seen him before, so I was looking to see another heater and put it in the right spot. I just tried to put a move on it.”
This moment would not have been possible if it were not for the Walnut Creek bullpen, which did not allow a run in the last six innings of the game. Walnut Creek relief pitcher Nick Proctor ignited this effort, going three innings in his debut for the Crawdads. Proctor is new to the Crawdads, but he is not new to the CCL as he was the closer for the Santa Barbara Foresters for the last two seasons and only allowed one earned run during his time with the ‘Sters.
The Crawdads are looking to sweep the Prune Packers on Thursday at Recreation Park in Healdsburg, which would put them 0.5 game back of first place in the CCL North division. This game meant more than just an average CCL regular season game and that sentiment was clearly conveyed from the Crawdads.
“It’s huge that we got the series before going to Healdsburg,” Donnelly said. “It takes some of the pressure off tomorrow. I think we need to keep doing what we are doing. The bullpen has been great. The offense has been doing our thing. I think if we stick with it and play loose, we’ll be good.”