Pirates Rebound Against Inland Valley, One Game Away From Repeating as Champions
Updated: Aug 1, 2021
ORANGE, CA - For the second time this postseason, the Ventura County Pirates have bounced back from a loss to win an elimination game, defeating the Inland Valley Pirates 5-3 and forcing a decisive Game 3, against an opponent that has been a thorn in Ventura's side all summer long.
Cole Dale held the Inland Valley offense back, striking out seven batters in his seven-inning quality start and only allowing one earned run. In the meantime, the Ventura County bats came alive in the middle innings to rack up a 5-1 lead.
Inland Valley opened up the scoring with an unearned run in the second inning, Jacob Sharp running home on an errant throw from home on a double-steal play that ended up hitting him in the back. They were then quiet until the eighth inning, after Ventura had surged ahead.
Ventura County's bunting ability and persistence made all the difference in this one, with a fifth inning bunt parade putting the Pirates on the board to tie the game. Johnny Pacheco, Jason Ajamian, and Trenton Pallas reached base with consecutive bunt singles to load the bases, before Pacheco made it home on a ground ball double play to tie the game.
Then in the bottom of the sixth, Bradley Chesterton scored after making it to second base on an overthrow. Grant Schoen then bunted for a single, and Kyle Soberano moved him to second with a sac bunt. Darren Taylor drew a walk to load the bases, and then Ian McIntyre was hit by a pitch to bring Chesterton home for a 2-1 lead. In the next at bat, Johnny Pacheco grounded into a fielder's choice to score Schoen, making it 3-1.
Trenton Pallas, after having bunted for singles in the third and fifth, led off the seventh inning with a third single to make it a 3-for-3 night. He then stole second base, ran to third on Chesterton's sac bunt, and scored the eventual winning run on Schoen's single, which also forced an error by Inland Valley's third baseman that allowed David Reyna to score.
Inland Valley put a couple runners on base in the top of the eighth with a leadoff single and a subsequent walk. With the potential tying run now in the on deck circle, Trevor Garcia entered the game in relief. While both inherited runners would score, they would be the final runs they scored in the game. Garcia ended up striking out three Inland Valley batters en route to earning the save.
The championship will be decided Sunday night at Hart Park in Orange, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:30 PM.