A rematch between the Preston Nine and Represa Pioneers was a game for the annals of Gold Country Vintage Base Ball.
The Pioneers entered the June 2 game as favorites to maintain their hold on first place, but in the end, it was the Preston Nine scoring a 12-8 win to move into a tie at the top of the GCVBB standings.
Don’t let the final score fool you, the first-place showdown was a “battle to the end,” said Dylan Bell of the Preston Nine. The approximately 25 fans who braved the warmth were rewarded with exciting plays, a home run and a diving tag at third that had to be seen to be believed.
Starting things off was hurler Jay Cassara in the box for Represa and he pitched admirably, only surrendering two runs through four innings. Perhaps it was the two-week break in games due to the Memorial Day holiday and late May rains, but he was so energized that he exceeded the 60 miles per hour speed limit on his pitches several times and had to be replaced.
His teammate “Dazzle” Drake helped make up for the offensive slumber by clubbing a home run to left-center field, scoring two in the top of the fourth.
“That swing felt great,” Drake said. “Right on the sweet spot and it just made it out.”
That home run was his second on the year for the 2-year GCVBB veteran from Fair Oaks.
With that home run and a later in the inning, the game stood 3-2 in favor of the Pioneers.
With their backs to the wall, the Preston Nine fought back and starting things off in the bottom of the fourth inning was Chad “Belt” Williams with an RBI after clubbing a ground-rule double. “Belt” has an interesting back ground; he pitched for the University of the Pacific and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. However, he injured his rotator cuff in rookie ball and had difficulty coming back from the devastating injury and was out of professional baseball shortly after. In the game before the break, he clubbed three home runs.
Williams’ teammate Curtis “Hot Rod” Carney played third base and did a spectacular impersonation of another Carney, former Oakland Athletics third baseman Carney Lansford that is. Carney got on base all three times he was at bat and scored twice. In the top of the fifth inning, he trapped the ball and stretched out to tag the runner at third, a play that captain Matt “Hook” Broucaret said “was a gritty play.”
“He played lights out at third base for us today,” Broucaret said of Carney.
Because of that defense, Carney was awarded the game ball.
Jeremy “Rock” Sweet pitched the final three innings to preserve the win for the Preston Nine and to assist his effort, he had four RBIs on the day.
Around the Horn
The Ione Indians are still seeking their first win of the season, dropping the afternoon match to the Rancho Murieta Bandits 14-6 … There was no late game on June 2 because the Miners forfeited due to a shortage of players.