Walnut Creek’s Alter Ego Returns
by Justin de Haas
It did not seem like the Walnut Creek Crawdads would need their alter ego, but the “Cardiac Crawdads” were back at it again.
The Crawdads were up by eight runs entering the bottom of the seventh inning, but they allowed nine runs in the frame to relinquish the lead. Walnut Creek (26-6-1, 18-6 CCL) was able to complete another comeback by scoring four runs in the ninth inning to take the lead, which it would hold onto in a 15-12 victory over Solano (5-26, 4-22 CCL) at Vanden High School.
Solano utilized small ball in its seventh-inning rally with only one extra-base hit in the frame. Walnut Creek relief pitchers Jackson Howell and Ryan Troye were responsible for the runs in the seventh. Even though Troye allowed four runs in the inning, he earned Player of the Game after shutting down the Mudcats in the last two innings to get the win along with six strikeouts and no walks.
“I just have to execute pitches,” Troye. “When I can do that, I know that I will get guys out and the game will get going. It is definitely not fun to get hit around and letting up runs, so I find it more fun when I get guys out and I’m in a groove. I like to get in that groove and whenever I find it, I know it’s going to be a good time out there.”
Troye needed run support to get the win and that came in the form of Walnut Creek first baseman Joey Donnelly. The first baseman hit a ball that should have been a flyout to left field, but Solano left fielder Max McGee completely missed the ball after being camped under it and that double would score two runs to give the Crawdads the lead. Donnelly would get on base four times against the Mudcats, which would result in him scoring four runs and him being a catalyst for the offense.
It appeared Solano was attempting to exploit a loophole once Walnut Creek took the lead. The California Collegiate League has a rule that states if the sunset occurs during a game without lights, the team with the lead at the end of the last complete half inning wins the game.
This happened in the top of the ninth inning with two outs and the Mudcats had the lead after the eighth inning, so they tried to stall until sundown. Walnut Creek manager Brant Cummings realized this, so he told third baseman Max Farfan to overrun left fielder Cole Fellows on the basepaths, which resulted in an out and ended the inning.
“Everything happened pretty quick,” Troye. “I was sitting in the dugout worrying about the ninth. Not worrying, just locking in. All of a sudden, [pitching coach Jack] Delmar comes up to me and says to start throwing in the pen for warm up pitches. Obviously I was a little confused, but with daylight and everything I was able to get the job done. It kind of slowed the game down for me knowing that I had to execute my pitches and attack hitters.”
Overall, there was an abundance of offense with both teams getting double-digit hits. Farfan hit three home runs against the Mudcats on July 10 and he had another three hits on Tuesday, which are the only two games the third baseman has three hits so far this season. The Mudcats had six players get multiple hits, which includes designated hitter Nate Schwartz hitting the double to give Solano the lead and had four RBI in the game.
The starting pitching was not as bad as the score would appear. Walnut Creek starting pitcher Antoine Valerio pitched for the first time in over a month for the Crawdads and he had five strikeouts in 3 ⅔ innings. On the other side, Solano starting pitcher Dylan Trammell bounced back after getting lit up in his last outing against the Crawdads by keeping the Mudcats in the game with four earned runs in four innings.
It was a lot closer than the Crawdads would have liked it, but they will take the win. The Healdsburg Prune Packers lost to the Lincoln Potters, so the ‘Dads are now three games back of the Packers. There is a strong belief in the Walnut Creek clubhouse that it can win the series at Monte Vista on Wednesday.
“I’m confident in our guys,” Troye. “We have a good team. I know we will go out and compete every pitch, so compete every pitch and we will win a lot of games.”