Multiple comebacks secure 9-8 win for De Anza in back and forth game

After an up and down game where the lead changed or was tied six times, it was the De Anza College Dons who managed to grab the final go ahead run late and hold on for the 9-8 win at West Valley College on Saturday, March 25.

The Dons were rough through the first inning while the Vikings came out hot, recording two RBIs and chasing De Anza starting pitcher after just a third of an inning.

A key part of West Valley’s two RBI inning was a trio of walks by the Dons pitchers. De Anza head coach Eric Raich came out of the dugout for a frustrated talk with the umpire about the strike zone and was given a warning.

Raich said that he talked with the umpire later and clarified he was not criticizing the umpire for the calls. Instead, he was just trying to find out where his players were locating their pitches.

“We’re calling middle, our guy’s not moving is glove and I don’t know where it’s missing,” he said. “When you’re calling middle and your guy’s not moving his glove you start to kind of question it. If you’re going corners it’s different because it could cut or it could run, it could do that. So it’s just frustrating because we’re basically sitting there going where do we throw the ball.”

De Anza did not trail for long however. With two runners in scoring position in the top of the second, freshman shortstop Riki Desa hit a deep sacrifice fly into center field. Despite an athletic diving catch by West Valley center fielder Dwight Washington, the Vikings were unable to get the ball back into play quickly allowing sophomore outfielder Devon Canty and freshman first baseman Chad Franquez to tag up and score.

Soon after the tying sacrifice fly, momentum swung away from the Dons as the Vikings went on a four to zero run through the next three innings leaving the Dons down six to two.

“We had a lot of outs left, so we weren’t really panicking,” Raich said. “We kind of just said we got six of our 12 outs with strike outs with strike outs, were not putting a lot of pressure, I just brought them up and said they’re kicking your butt in every aspect of the game. They’re throwing more strikes, they’re playing better catch, and they’re grinding out at bats better than you guys.

“I said we got 15 outs to work with but we don’t have much time to mess around any more. We need to flip the switch.”

The Vikings managed to hold the lead all the way to the top of the seventh, but a strong top of the sixth by the Dons narrowed the lead to just to one run. Combined, the West Valley starting pitcher and his bullpen walked four straight Dons scoring one.

Soon after, freshman third baseman Nicholas Kafer reached first on a fielder’s choice scoring the second run and freshman catcher Sam Nastari doubled scoring the Dons’ third and final run of the inning.

A quick, scoreless bottom of the sixth meant the Dons trailed by only one run as they came back up to the plate.

Freshman right fielder Manuel Ochoa got the leadoff single then reached third on another single by second baseman Nolan Dempsey. A third single, this time by Canty, scored Ochoa and put Dempsey on second. Thanks to some great small ball, the Dons had tied the game 6-6.

To move a second runner into scoring position, the Dons attempted a double steal, but Canty was caught at second, leaving the Dons with a man on third and two outs. Freshman designated hitter recorded his own single, scoring Dempsey and giving the Dons their first lead of the afternoon, 7-6. West Valley got their pitching back under control and closed the top of the inning.

What followed was a long grind of a seventh inning in which the Dons used five pitchers, some of whom threw as few as two pitches before being pulled.

“We have a game tomorrow,” Raich said. “So we’ve got to conserve pitchers as much as we can.”

After a third of an inning, De Anza brought in freshman reliever Ro Mahanty to finish the inning and the rest of the game. Mahanty gave up two inherited runners before ending the inning, but prevented any of the batters he faced from collecting more runs. At the end of the seventh, the Vikings had reclaimed the one run lead 8-7.

On the first pitch of the top of the eighth, Nastari singled into the outfield and stole second. He was backed up by Dempsey who singled, scoring Nastari, and Franquez who singled scoring Dempsey who had reached second on a wild pitch.

This left De Anza with the 9-8 lead. From here on, Mahanty took over the game with a three up, three down eighth and a scoreless, two hit ninth to secure the win for the Dons.

“Really it comes down to execution,” Raich said. “When you execute and you don’t try to do too much offensively and let the game develop, good things will happen.”


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