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Bulldogs lack fire in loss to Albany

Sophomore pitcher Cole Gifford pitched three shutout innings in relief against Albany on March 14, 2016. In the top of the seventh inning he got out the 2-3-4 hitters. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
Sophomore pitcher Cole Gifford pitched three shutout innings in relief against Albany on March 14, 2016. In the top of the seventh inning he got out the 2-3-4 hitters. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
By GERARDO RECINOS
Martinez Tribune

The first two word’s out of Daryl King’s mouth after the game on Monday afternoon were predictable, nut had the same effect nonetheless.

“No excuses,” the second-year head coach said after Alhambra’s varsity baseball teams 5-4 loss to the Albany Cougars on March 14.

“Whether it’s the layoff we had, whether it’s playing a certain team and feeling a certain way about things, or you thinking you’ve beaten some of the top teams in Division III so far, and you’re going to cruise into this one, you can’t think that way,” King said.

Alhambra has lost three out of it’s last four against Albany, including a loss in the semi-finals of last year’s North Coast Section playoffs.

The Bulldogs had a two week layoff in between games due to rainy conditions, with their last game coming on the first of the month, a 5-0 win against reigning NCS Division III champions Sir Francis Drake-San Anselmo.

Junior Jordyn Eglite took the ball for the home opener, and although he was tagged for two runs, he avoided a bigger inning by getting outs it tough situations.

Eglite looked sharp, but at times was let down by his defense.

A two-out rally in the bottom half of the opening frame allowed Alhambra to spark their own rally with only one hit.

Senior Zach Elliott reached first on a catcher’s interference call, and was moved over to third on a pass ball. Elliott was singled in by fellow senior Josh Abraham.

Albany’s Jerry Gaitan was wild and Alhambra took advantage of his ineffectiveness on the mound. The junior walked three hitters in his 2/3 innings of work, and allowed four runs.

Three straight hitters all drove in a run on walks to give Alhambra an early lead, and after a 29-minute first inning it seemed that this one would be a marathon.

But both pitchers settled down, and although Eglite didn’t record a 1-2-3 inning in the four frames he threw, he settled down and became increasingly more efficient as he continued.

In the second and third innings he got around a base hit and walk respectively on only 26 pitches, down from the 18 he threw in the first.

After Albany senior reliever Clayton McDonald came into the ball game to remove Gaitan, the Cougars too settled down, and in the bottom half of the third inning, McDonald threw the first 1-2-3 inning of the game, using only 10 pitches to get through the three Bulldog hitters.

With the momentum of a shutdown inning, the Cougars struck.

A lead-off single by Cody Sim saw him come around and score after a single by McDonald and a pair of RBI singles by outfielder Kyle Su and Chet Shemchuck.

The Cougars took the lead on an error by third baseman Josh Abraham, but Eglite cut down the rally by getting out of a bases loaded one out jam. Eglite struck out the heart of the catcher, Cooper Morrison, and got first baseman Liam Knowles to pop out.

King handed the ball to sophomore Cole Gifford to relieve Eglite. Gifford only allowed a single in his three innings of work. His effort allowed Alhambra a shot to make a late run.

“He had a lot of poise on the mound, some sophomores get wide-eyed,” King said. “He went out their, calm, threw strikes, didn’t try to over throw.”

But even with the heroic effort from the sophomore, Alhambra’s three hits on the afternoon were not enough to get anything from the game.

Senior Tyler Peters doubled in the bottom of the seventh inning, but with two outs, he became the seventh man stranded on base in the losing effort.

“Our guys had no sense of pride today, and when you don’t have pride everything else is going to falter,” King said.

About Gerardo Recinos

Gerardo Recinos is a journalist currently living in Concord, Calif. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Journalism (History minor). Gerardo covers sports throughout Martinez and Pleasant Hill. It's his lifelong mission to get people in the U.S. to stop calling football "soccer," and to call American football "handegg."

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