By GABE AGURCIA
Special to the Tribune
Alhambra baseball was narrowly defeated by Acalanes in Lafayette on Friday, May 17, by a score of 3-1.
The game was offensively uneventful for the first three innings.
The Bulldogs looked like they’d strike quickly when Matt Beck and Tyler Peters started the first inning with back-to-back walks. However, Jordyn Eglite grounded into a double play, and Beck was stranded at third base.
Jake Berry singled and stole second with two outs in the bottom of the first, but he was stranded as well.
Zach Elliott led off the third with a single and Dominic Pruett laid down a sacrifice bunt to move him to second. A two-out single by Peters left runners at first and third, but Alhambra couldn’t knock in a run.
After the Bulldogs left another runner in scoring position in the top of the fourth, the Dons broke through in the bottom half.
Berry got his second base hit, this one a double, to lead off. Cole Gifford misplayed a Tommy Henderson chopper, leaving runners at first and second with no outs. Daniel Kim singled to right-center, initially driving in Berry. But Beck whiffed on the ball and it rolled to the warning track, allowing Henderson to come around from first and Kim to get to third. Gavin Shipp added another run with a RBI single down the third base line. Acalanes led 3-0 at the end of the fourth.
Alhambra mounted an immediate response in the top of the fifth inning.
Elliott reached on a dropped third strike to kick off the rally. Pruett grounded out, getting Elliott to second base. Beck was hit by a pitch, followed by a Peters single, loading the bases with one out. Josh Abraham put together a great at-bat, drawing a walk to drive in Elliott. But the offense stalled yet again, and the Bulldogs could only get the one run.
Acalanes starter Josh Candau held Alhambra in check for the second time this season, giving up only one earned run over five innings. Coach Daryl King didn’t think his offense was dominated, but instead acknowledged the efficiency of Candau. “It was hittable, it wasn’t anything special. But he did his job, threw strikes and got outs,” he said.
Although runs were hard to come by, King was happy to see certain guys have production come their way. “Zach Elliott came through with two nice singles on the left side, in the six hole. That’s something that I knows he’s needed. He’s been working hard. He’s been in a little slump lately, but those two hits will get somebody going.”
With just one game left before the playoffs, Alhambra needs to get its offense clicking to back up solid outings from Gifford and the rest of the staff.
“It’s about cleaning up the mental side. Going up there knowing you can do it, even when it’s bad. That’s the difference between lower and higher level hitters. A higher level hitter is someone whose confidence never falters. You see it in Division 1 and the Big Leagues. Those guys can come out 0-17 to start the season, but they know they’re gonna go 1-18 the next time out. And that one is all it takes to get it going. Same thing with our guys. You need one to get it going. Hitting is contagious. I always have confidence in the guys.”