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Knuckleballs not enough for Pirates

On Friday, Scolinos Field hosted a matchup between the Sunset League’s South Bay Saints and the CPCL’s Inland Valley Pirates. 


The Pirates have gotten off to a 1-3 start in the CPCL, while the Saints have gone 1-0 in the Sunset League. 


After a quiet first inning, Inland Valley’s Bret Bowers got on first base with one out in the second. With the threat of an inning-ending double play alive, Bowers stole second. The next batter, Sonny Rios, hit a double to score Bowers. 


After this, the game was serene for a while. Inland Valley’s Andrew Nesson held South Bay scoreless over four, allowing minimal traffic. 


It was the same story for the Saints pitchers outside of giving up a run in the second. With a heavy dose of off-speed pitches, South Bay pitching was able to keep Pirates hitters frustrated. 


Even in fastball counts, Saints pitchers kept throwing off-speed pitches inducing an array of swings and misses. When Inland Valley batters did make contact, it was usually soft, and the South Bay defense fielded it cleanly every time. 


In the 6th inning, the Pirates' pitching faltered, walking four batters and allowing a hit, resulting in three runs for the Saints. It looked like Inland Valley would get out of the inning with only two runs given up, but misfortune found them.


With two outs and the bases loaded, South Bay hit a hard ground ball up the middle that deflected off the second base bag, allowing an extra run to score. The runner from second base tried to score, but the Pirates second baseman picked the ball up and nailed him at home to save a fourth run. 


In the eighth inning, the Saints’ barrels warmed up, leading the inning off with three consecutive singles. Defensive mishaps extended the inning and helped extend South Bay's rally longer than it should have.


 Inland Valley finally got out of the inning, but not before surrendering another three runs. 

Carson Mounce hit a late RBI single for the Pirates to give them a second run, but the team ultimately was never able to mount a comeback. 


The highlight of the day for Inland Valley was the top of the ninth when outfielder Gavin Garcia came in to pitch. Garcia shocked everyone when he started to throw knuckleballs during his warmup pitches.


It became even more shocking when he started throwing them during the game. Garcia was able to throw his knuckleball over the plate and even got a swing-and-miss.


To top this off, his catcher, Mounce, made an acrobatic diving catch in front of the dugout for the final out of the scoreless inning. 


Garcia’s pitching and Mounce’s defense finally brought some excitement back into the solemn dugout.


Inland Valley is now 1-4 on the season and 1-3 in the CPCL. The team has a lot of talent and has led in four of their five games, but they have not been able to piece everything together consistently.


The Pirates will have a chance to get their season back on track on Tuesday in Palm Springs against the undefeated Power. 








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