The offense for the Walnut Creek Crawdads was unable to get much going against a couple California Golden Bears on the mound for the Healdsburg Prune Packers.
Walnut Creek had opportunities to put up some crooked numbers, going 0-14 with runners in scoring position, but their only offense came from a solo shot from right fielder Tyson Pointer. The Prune Packers (26-3, 18-3 CCL) were able to get enough offense early in the game to avoid a comeback from the Crawdads (19-5-1, 12-5 CCL) as the ‘Dads lose 7-1 at Recreation Park.
Healdsburg starting pitcher Chris Stamos has been known for his high strikeout numbers, getting at least five in each of his first three CCL outings. Stamos continued that trend with eight strikeouts in four innings on Thursday, which is the most strikeouts in a game for the Golden Bear so far this season. Healdsburg relief pitcher Robert Aivazian was a big reason why the Prune Packers were able to salvage the last game of the series on June 29 and he continued his success against the Crawdads in relief of his fellow Cal product, allowing one run in 2 ⅔ innings.
That earned run came via a towering bomb from Pointer that hit the top of the stands in right field. The right fielder is known to have power, but contact has been a struggle as he was hitting .170 entering Thursday. Pointer hit .303 and 10 home runs at University of Texas at Arlington and has not had the start he wanted to the summer, but the hope is that this bomb could potentially facilitate an improved second half to the summer for the Maverick.
On the other hand, a player who has made consistent contact for the Crawdads is second baseman Ryan Ellis. The second baseman has been on base in every game this season and he had another three hits against the Prune Packers. Healdsburg is the best team in the CCL by record, yet Ellis has recorded three hits against the Packers twice, which is the only team he has done that to.
The Walnut Creek offense struggled in Healdsburg, but they were still only down two runs after six innings. Walnut Creek starting pitcher Dylan McShane started his first game of the season and he was able to go four innings, which is the most he has gone for the Crawdads in a game this season. McShane allowed three runs in the first four frames, but he was able to avoid crooked numbers and keep a usually potent Walnut Creek lineup in the game.
Walnut Creek relief pitcher Sean Fitzpatrick has been one of the more reliable bullpen arms for the Crawdads this season and he looked like that in his first two innings by not allowing a run. Fitzpatrick ran into some trouble in the seventh with runners on second and third with one out when Healdsburg second baseman Hunter Dorraugh drove in both runners off a broken-bat single that was blopped into left field. There was some bad luck involved in the reliever’s outing, but he is also probably kicking himself for allowing hits to the eighth and ninth hitters in the Healdsburg lineup.
A couple players that ignited the eighth inning rally to extend the lead for the Pruner Packers were third baseman Peyton Schulze and center fielder Robbie Hamchuk. The latter is a known commodity as he hits .444 and bats leadoff for the best team in the CCL, but the former had himself a night. Schulze had three hits from the eighth spot, which is the most he has had in a CCL game, but he is hitting .636 in his last three games and may be getting hot to close out the first half of the season.
The Crawdads will close out the first half of the CCL season by playing a three-game series against the Solano Mudcats, but they play the Alameda Anchors before that on Friday at Monte Vista. Walnut Creek played Alameda in the first game of the season on June 4 when it mercy ruled the Anchors 13-2 in seven innings, but Alameda is in second place in the Bay Area Collegiate League above teams like the Bay Area Admirals and Game Prep Trojans.