By GERARDO RECINOS
Alhambra is just good enough to lose at the moment, and that fact can easily be backed up by numbers.
During their current six game losing streak, Alhambra’s baseball team has lost five of those games by a combined total of nine runs. The only outlier was the complete capitulation of an 11-1 defeat at the hands of Pinole Valley.
Take their latest effort, a 4-2 loss in extra innings to undefeated Clayton Valley Charter on April 25.
On paper taking a Ugly Eagles team that’s about to crack the top 100 teams in the nation on MaxPreps is a good sign. But that’s what Alhambra has been doing all season.
The Bulldogs battled back after allowing some early mistakes to score, but don’t have enough hitting to full turn around the ball game. And the people who suffer most are the pitchers.
Senior Jordyn Eglite won’t get the loss for his sterling eight-inning effort, but his performance against such a good club should have surely earned him a win.
And it looked like the Bulldogs were going to do that for him. In recent outings, Eglite has pitched well, but a blip in the first inning has caused damage.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Bulldogs helped their pitcher out. Battery mate Zach Schuler threw out a pair of runners trying to swipe second base after both reached on line drive singles.
But that just meant that rather than coughing up a pair of runs in the first inning, the Bulldogs would do so in the second inning, just to switch things up.
In fairness to the Eagles, they earned their first run. A lead off triple by senior Kevin Snyder yielded a run two pitches later when senior Vince Lontz drove him in on a ground ball to second baseman Jake Tyler.
But second run came in because of an error made in the outfield that allowed a line drive off the bat of James Biles that rolled all the way out to the far left field fence that meets with the end zone at Knowles Field. Biles scored on a ground out as well.
Even more frustrating for Alhambra in the losing effort was that this time they did answer back.
Immediately after allowing two runs to score, the Bulldogs struck back. After failing to get down a bunt twice, Jake Tyler singled in Schuler, who led off the inning with a walk.
Recently returned from injury, Daymyn Blalock scored the equalizer, but that was the last time Clayton Valley pitcher Mitchell Hofer would be vulnerable.
He and Eglite traded quick innings back and forth, neither looking likely to allow the opponent back into the contest.
Eglite looked in full command of his pitches, and did a good job using his off-speed stuff to steal strike one. He pounded the strike zone, starting off 21 of the 20 hitters with a strike.
But his pitch count was rising, and after eight innings, he had to be lifted from the game.
Hofer too was lifted, and perhaps fairly, neither pitcher would be hung with a loss after they both posted gutsy performances.
But someone had to lose, and after Biles entered the game for the Eagles and mowed down all six hitters he faced, it was clear it would be the Bulldogs who went home unhappy.
Junior Teddy Stanghellini was wild coming in from the bullpen, and the Eagles made him pay instantly. It didn’t help that the Bulldogs allowed the first hitter to reach on an error, but things got worse when Clayton Valley opted to score the go-ahead run on a suicide squeeze.
The gamble was rewarded as not only did they get one run in, but even after Biles was cut down at home plate trying to score on a throwing error, the runner on third came in to score a pitch later on a wild offering from Stanghellini.
And for the sixth time in as many games the Bulldogs were defeated, not only on the score board, but perhaps morally as well.