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Walnut Creek Defense Looked Like It Was Still on Break

by Justin de Haas

The last loss at home for the Walnut Creek Crawdads was on June 11 against the Sonoma Stompers, but the month-long streak came to an end against the Lincoln Potters at Monte Vista.

Walnut Creek has a great opportunity to make up some ground on the Healdsburg Prune Packers as Healdsburg does not play a California Collegiate League game until June 18, so this weekend series against the Potters has some added significance. The Walnut Creek defense can be considered the main culprit for the loss as the Crawdads (23-6-1, 15-6 CCL) committed five errors and allowed four unearned runs, which would be the difference in a 11-7 defeat to the Potters (23-13, 11-10 CCL) on Friday.

The poor defense was accentuated in the fourth inning when Lincoln left fielder Ben Higdon hit a Little League home run after hitting a double with two Walnut Creek errors on the play, which would score four runs and give the Potters the lead with two outs. It also did not help that the Walnut Creek pitching allowed nine walks, including a bases-loaded walk before Higdon’s double that helped facilitate the five-run fourth inning that gave Lincoln all the momentum they would need.

This two-out rally in the fourth overshadowed how productive the Walnut Creek offense was early in the game, starting with crooked numbers in the first three innings to give the Crawdads a lead. The Crawdads did not hit eight home runs like they did in their last game, but the power was still apparent with center fielder Ryan Brome and designated hitter Tyson Pointer going deep in the contest. Pointer has hit three home runs in his last five games and could potentially add another potent bat to a Walnut Creek lineup that had six representatives at the CCL 30 Showcase game on July 12.

Both sides struggled with their starting pitching as both pitchers allowed at least four earned runs while only pitching into the fourth inning. Lincoln starting pitcher Caden Hunter only pitched one inning in the CCL entering Friday, but he was able to get the win in his first start of the summer with his offense giving him some run support. Conversely, Walnut Creek starting pitcher Dylan McShane took a step back after his outing against the Packers on July 6, but the Crawdads will rely on him as a starter with Ryan Rissas leaving for the Cape Cod Baseball League.

The Potters had a couple phenomenal performances that helped lead them to victory at Monte Vista. Lincoln relief pitcher Arthur Steinkamp only allowed one run in three innings, which prevented the “Cardiac Crawdads” from making another comeback. Potters’ right fielder Dominic Rodriguez had four hits and three RBI, which could be considered surprising because he was hitting in the seventh spot and only played in three CCL games prior to Friday’s game.

Walnut Creek will look to push the series to a rubber match when they play in Lincoln on Saturday. The Crawdads played at McBean Stadium on June 20 and won that game 9-5, so they will hope to replicate that when they face the Potters in a battle between the second and third place teams in the CCL North division.

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