By GABE AGURCIA
Special to the Tribune
Alhambra baseball was defeated at home by Campolindo on Tuesday, April 19 by a score of 8-2. The final deficit was sizable, but it was close for most of the game.
Campolindo put pressure on starter Cole Gifford right away, with second baseman Drew Ventrelle getting a one-out single, stealing second base, and reaching third on a ground out by UC Berkeley-bound Max Flower. Gifford was able to induce a dribbling come-backer to end the threat.
Second baseman Trent Greene immediately got on in the bottom half of the inning, jumping on the first Cole Farrand pitch for a single up the middle. But after two quick outs, Greene was thrown out trying to steal second to end the first inning.
The Cougars attacked Gifford again in the second. Third baseman Jonathan Chu hit a one-out single then stole second. Nicky Fafoutis singled after him, leaving runners at first and third with one out. After Gifford recorded his first strikeout, outfielder Ryan Rossi came through with a two-out, two-run single.
The Bulldogs made a quick counterattack in the bottom of the second. Catcher Josh Abraham drew a full count lead-off walk and first baseman Jordyn Eglite followed with a flare to right-center. Shortstop Zach Elliott made solid contact but hit it right at the opposing shortstop, who was able to start the 6-4-3 double play, leaving Abraham at third base.
Left fielder Brandon Muroka picked up Elliott, lining a single to left to bring home Abraham. Alhambra cut Campolindo’s lead to 2-1.
Ventrelle led off the top of the third inning with the same sequence of events from the 1st inning, singling and stealing second. The University of Chicago commit advanced to third on a fly out to right, but Gifford struck out Jack Cassidy and got Sam Dinerman to groundout to squeak out of trouble.
Gifford once again channeled his inner Houdini in the fourth inning, getting out of another jam which seemed destined to result in more Cougar runs.
Chu belted a lead-off triple to deep left-center, the ball maintaining so much speed that center fielder Daymon Blalock had to make a full speed slide to cut it off and prevent an inside-the-park home run. But Gifford kept his composure once again, stranding Chu at third with two ground outs and a strikeout.
The Bulldogs had a great chance to tie or take the lead in the bottom half of the fourth inning.
Designated hitter Tyler Peters led off with a single, and Eglite got his second base hit with one out, putting runners at first and second. Elliott drew a walk to load the bases, giving Muroka another RBI opportunity.
He one-hopped a sharp grounder to Chu at third, who initiated the 5-4-3 double play, which Muroka nearly prevented by hustling down the line. However, Alhambra got nothing out of deal.
The two teams traded runs in the fifth inning. Cassidy drove in Ventrelle for Campolindo and Greene brought in Blalock for Alhambra, leaving the Cougars with a 3-2 advantage.
Then things got ugly in the sixth inning.
Spencer Schulhauser took over on the mound, striking out the first batter he faced. But Campolindo swiftly flipped the script on the relief pitcher.
Fafoutis and Devin Regan got a single and walk, respectively, setting up Rossi for an RBI double. Ryan McNally drove in Regan from third with a single, followed by Ventrelle’s third single which scored Rossi. And with runners at first and second with two outs, Utah-bound Myles Harris lined one off of Greene’s glove, the ball deflecting into shallow right field. With McNally and Ventrelle both breaking on contact, both runners came around to score before Greene could toss the ball home.
When it was all said and done, the Cougars had knocked around Schulhauser for five runs, ballooning their lead to 8-2.
Alhambra went down in order in the last two innings, seemingly deflated by that crooked number in the sixth inning.
Head coach Daryl King was very matter-of-fact after the game. “We just got beat. We just got out hit. Sometimes that’s the way it is. It happens.”
He was happy with his pitching, saying “I love the way he (Gifford) battled. It took him a little bit to get going, he gets in tough counts, but I know he’s gonna pull through. And Cameron Machado came in, threw very well that last inning. Shut them down.”
Overall, the Bulldogs played well. They were resilient through five innings. Mishaps like the sixth inning don’t happen frequently.
Alhambra will look to bounce back against Acalanes at home on Thursday, April 21 at 4 p.m.
Game results for Thursday’s game are after Tribune deadline. For coverage from the game against Acalanes on April 21, please check the April 29 edition of the Tribune.