Menlo College 14, San Diego Christian 7
Date of competition: Saturday, March 11, 2017
The sixth-ranked baseball program in the country, belonging to Menlo College, had their sights set on a series sweep against San Diego Christian College Saturday afternoon. With two games on the schedule, Menlo would have to get through the back portion of the Hawks rotation and put up enough runs on the board to earn that sweep. The offense could not do enough in game one while the bullpen struggled, but the bats came alive in the seven-inning game to wrap up the doubleheader. At the end of play on the day, Menlo dropped game one 7-4 and won game two 14-7. After another weekend of conference action, Menlo is now 19-4 (8-2) while San Diego Christian is 6-13 (5-10).
Menlo recorded just seven hits in the series opener on Friday, but still managed to put ten runs on the board en route to the victory. They only were able to get five hits on the board in game one, but made three of them count by way of the home run. San Diego Christian struck first in this game against Menlo starter Andrew Merken, who had retired the first six batters of the game. Merken walked the leadoff hitter for the Hawks, and after a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout had a chance to put the inning away without much trouble. A two-out RBI single to right field scored the runner from second and got San Diego Christian in front first with a 1-0 lead after three innings of play.
As is so often the case with the Menlo offense, they make sure any deficits do not last long. The Hawks could not record a shutdown inning as Menlo got the one run back plus one more in the top of the fourth. Dalton Maxwell led off the inning with a home run to right field, his third on the season. Just two batters later, Jordan Getzelman provided his team-best eleventh long ball of the season, this one to left field, and Menlo suddenly held a 2-1 lead.
Merken pitched the first five innings and entered the game in the top of the sixth but ran in to trouble. He allowed consecutive singles to lead off the bottom of the sixth, so Head Coach Jake McKinley turned to his best reliever: Kevin George. After allowing a wild pitch to move both runners up, George induced a groundout that did score one of the runs for San Diego Christian, tying the game at 2-2. That would be all the Hawks would get in that frame, and once again, the Menlo offense came back ready to respond. Peter Saldana got the start at designated hitter and led off the seventh with a double down the right field line. Two batters later, Eduardo Sanchez made a pinch-hit appearance, and it counted in a big way. He blasted a shot to left-center field for a pitch hit home run to give Menlo a 4-2 lead. With George on the mound, this is normally an insurmountable deficit for the opposition.
The bottom of the seventh started out as harmless as most against George: a fly out and a strikeout. But with two down in the inning, that's when disaster struck for Menlo. Three consecutive two-out singles brought home one run and made it a 4-3 game. After another two-out single, the bases were loaded for the Hawks, still with two outs. Vahn Bozoian stood in, already with one RBI in the game, and he cleared the bases with one swing. A grand slam off the bat of Bozoian made it a 7-4 game, and scoring in the game would stop after that one swing.
Game two could be highlighted by the amount of home runs that were hit by the Oaks, and that is what the focus of this recap will be. After hitting three in game one, Menlo hit SIX home runs in game two, including four in the first two innings. Nick Quejado led off the game with a walk, and Dalton Maxwell doubled him home just two batters later. A Jordan Getzelman single moved Maxwell to third, and after Getzelman stole second, Maxwell scored on a throwing error by the Hawks catcher. Eduardo Sanchez was hit by a pitch, and with two outs in the inning, Dean Aliamus crushed a homer to left field. His three run shot capped off a five run first inning, and Menlo would not look back from there.
More offensive fireworks were on display for Menlo in the second inning, and once again the heart of the order was turning the nearby ocean into a destination for baseballs. Reed Kienle led off with a single, and proceeded to steal second. With one out, Joe Gillette doubled down the right field line to score Kienle and make it 6-0. This is when the big boppers started doing their thing. Maxwell, Julian Jarrard, and Getzelman each proceeded to hit home runs, going back-to-back-to-back. It was the first time this season the Oaks have accomplished that feat, and suddenly another five spot was on the board, and Menlo led 10-0.
The Oaks would not score again until the top of the sixth, and they used two more home runs to their advantage. Peter Saldana led off the inning with a pinch hit home run, his third home run of the season and the second time he has done so in the pinch hit variety. After a Justin Cooney-Sylk single and a fielder's choice, Gillette left the yard for the first time on the day with an opposite field home run to right. Menlo led 13-4 at the time, and added their final run in the seventh on an RBI double from Aliamus.
Brett Solano ran his record to 5-0 on the season with his complete game victory. He allowed ten hits and seven runs while getting just one strikeout, though two big innings did him in. He allowed four in the fourth and three in the seventh, but those come with prefaces. He retired nine of the first ten batters he faced before running into trouble in the fourth. He then retired six in a row from the fifth and sixth innings before allowing three more runs in the seventh. So while the line isn't pretty, he was the victim of a few poor innings that marred his day.
Menlo College returns to the Bay Area this week and will play at William Jessup on Tuesday. The nonconference tilt is slated to begin at 2 pm, with a weekend series against Vanguard looming on the horizon.
posted by Rick on Mar 11, 2017 at 6:56 pm
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posted by Rick on Mar 11, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Brett Solano pitched a complete game and improved to 5-0 on the season. Photo courtesy of Menlo Athletics
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