The Walnut Creek Crawdads were on cloud nine after a walk-off single from Joey Donnelly on Wednesday, but that excitement quickly turned to disappointment when the Dad’s were shutout for the first time this season.
Walnut Creek has been known for its comeback victories this summer, but that magic ran out against the Prune Packers, snapping a seven-game win streak against CCL teams. The Packers (20-3, 13-3 CCL) scoring five runs in the third inning was too much for the Crawdads (15-4-1, 9-4 CCL) to overcome and it resulted in a 7-0 loss at Recreation Park.
The Healdsburg defense struggled at Monte Vista High School, allowing three errors in each of its losses to the Crawdads, but the fielding for the Prune Packers was significantly better coming back home. The Packers turned three double plays, two of which extinguished leadoff singles in the first and second innings.
Healdsburg’s defense overshadowed its pitching in the last two games, but the Packers’ pitchers were able to shine bright throughout Thursday night. Healdsburg pitchers Robert Aivazian and Caden Bugarske combined for seven innings and only allowed three hits and two walks. This is similar to Wednesday’s game when the Prune Packers had two pitchers combine for seven innings, but Healdsburg’s ability to eliminate the unearned runs was the difference.
The Prune Packers made some adjustments to the lineup and it produced more runs on Thursday than the last two games combined. Healdsburg right fielder Damien Bravo replaced first baseman Will Hodo in the second spot of the lineup and he provided a double and home run with four RBI for the Packers. Hodo was moved down to the cleanup spot and he got his first and only hit of the game, but it was a two-run triple that generated the rally in the third inning.
There were not many positives for the Crawdads on Thursday, but Walnut Creek relief pitcher Kody Perry’s performance was certainly one of them. Perry had three strikeouts in two innings and was the only pitcher for the Crawdads to not allow a run. The Crawdad allowed seven earned runs in his first two outings of the season, including five runs in the tie with West Coast Kings on June 16, but he has not allowed any runs in his two outings since that implosion.
Another silver lining for Walnut Creek is second baseman Ryan Ellis and shortstop Jon Jon Gazdar each getting multiple hits at the top of the lineup, which means Ellis has multiple hits in 10 of his last 11 games. This duo combined for four of the team’s five hits, forming one of the most formidable middle infield duos in the CCL.
The Crawdads still managed to win the series against the Prune Packers and are 2.5 games behind Healdsburg for first place in the CCL North division. Walnut Creek will turn its attention to a three-game series against the Bay Area Admirals (8-11 CCL) with two of the games at Monte Vista High School. The season series is tied with both teams winning two games apiece and first pitch will be at 4 pm PST on Friday in Danville.