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Crawdads Finish First Half With a Bang

by Justin de Haas

The Walnut Creek Crawdads will be well represented at the California Collegiate League Showcase Game on July 12, but they looked ready for a home run derby if the CCL held one.

Walnut Creek hit eight home runs against the Solano Mudcats, with third baseman Max Farfan and designated hitter Tyson Pointer hitting multiple out of the park. The combination of the light tower power with 6 2/3 no-hit innings from the Walnut Creek pitching culminated in a dominate 25-3 victory for the Crawdads (23-5-1, 15-5 CCL) to sweep the Mudcats (5-22, 4-18 CCL).

The Crawdads outscored the Mudcats 49-8 in the last two games, with the 25 runs on Monday being the most runs a CCL team has scored in a league game since 2021. Walnut Creek has 10 players representing the squad at the CCL 30 Showcase Game, which is the most out of any team in the CCL, but it was not the players selected that made the biggest impact against Solano.

Farfan had four home runs on the season entering Monday, but all of them were in non league action. The third baseman had three bombs against the Mudcats, which makes him the team leader in home runs with seven, and it is also the second game he has had multiple homers after hitting two against the Humboldt Crabs on June 22. The Mudcats are only the second CCL team Farfan has a hit against this season, but the third baseman has changed his approach after struggling earlier in the season.

“Just trying to keep it simple,” Farfan said. “I think I was just trying to do too much in the beginning and just need to simplify it. Treat each at-bat like it’s a new at-bat.”

Pointer had two home runs and Walnut Creek first baseman Emmitt Phinney hit his first home run of the season immediately after replacing Ryan Brome, who also hit a home run on Monday. Farfan, Pointer and Phinney are all hitting below .200 in CCL play, so these players having success against Solano is encouraging for manager Brant Cummings.

“I think they are all doing the same thing,” Farfan said. “When you are winning by a lot, you just get to have a little more fun, so everyone was playing a little loose. You saw Phinney finally [hit one out], he’s been working really hard and it’s good to see that. Tyson was just doing what Tyson does.”

It was evident the Crawdads were having fun, especially with relief pitcher Kody Perry replacing center fielder Casey Cummings in the seventh inning. The Walnut Creek offense gave the pitching plenty of run support, but the staff did not need it with the combined no-hitter going into the seventh inning.

Walnut Creek starting pitcher Cade Cushing has been the closer for the Crawdads with five saves on the season, but he made his first start of the summer on Monday. Cushing pitched two innings, which is the most he has pitched in a game this summer, but he had four strikeouts and faced the minimum. Walnut Creek relief pitcher Joey Cammarata pitched the bulk of the innings, allowing two baserunners in his four frames of work to keep the no-hitter alive.

It seemed like the Crawdads were going to have a combined no-hitter through seven innings after Walnut Creek relief pitcher Ryan DeLaney retired the first two Mudcats in the inning. Solano first baseman Ben Pernetti had other plans as he broke up the combined no-no, which would ignite a two-out rally in which the Mudcats would score two runs to prevent getting shutout. The Crawdads had one of their best pitching performances on the season against Solano and it is not a coincidence that it occurred when the offense went ballistic.

“I think they have a little less stress on their backs when they are pitching with a lead,” Farfan said. “I think all of them just filled it up and things happen. You can see they [Mudcats] just get themselves out if they [Walnut Creek pitchers] fill it up.” 

Walnut Creek arguably played its best game of the season on Monday entering the all-star break. Some Crawdads will be playing in Compton for the CCL 30 Showcase Game while others rest for a few days before the second half of the season starts on July 14. The Crawdads will play a three-game series against the Lincoln Potters, whom they have only played once when the ‘Dads won 9-5 on June 20.

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