The Calistoga High baseball team entered Tuesday’s North Central League II matchup against Technology riding a three-game win streak, having finally started to put things together in a season completely disjointed by rainouts.
The Wildcats looked to carry that momentum into their home game against the Titans and, for the first three innings, that appeared to be the case. They used solid defense and a four-run third inning to take a 4-0 lead into the latter half of the affair.
But the ugliness that at times has plagued Calistoga this season reared its head again in the middle innings. The Titans capitalized on eight errors to take an 8-4 lead into the seventh.
The Wildcats did their best to rally, scoring three runs in the final frame and getting the potential game-tying run to third base. But they could not complete the comeback, falling 8-7.
“It had a little bit of everything. It was our season in a nutshell,” said Calistoga head coach Earl Caruthers. “You play well, you get ahead and it’s just getting these guys to focus for seven innings. When we do that, we play really well. When we don’t, it’s a hot mess.”
Trailing 8-4 and down to their last three outs, the Wildcats (4-6, 3-5 NCL II) started their seventh inning rally by scoring two runs on a Technology error that landed junior Jesus Rojas-Mendoza on second with just one out.
The Titans (4-7, 3-5 NCL II) got the next batter to fly out, but Rojas-Mendoza advanced to third on the play and scored a batter later on another error to cut it to 8-7.
Yuli Caballero was the runner who reached on the error that scored Rojas-Mendoza and represented the tying run. The junior stole two bases, but was still at third when the final out was recorded.
Caruthers looked back to the top of the seventh, when an error helped the Titans scored what proved to be the winning run.
“If we don’t make that last error in the last inning, it’s a tie game with a runner on third,” he said. “So it’s a learning experience, and hopefully by the end of this year they’ve learned it all.”
Despite errors inevitably costing them the game, Calistoga made its fair share of impressive plays in the field as well, highlighting the potential this team has in Caruthers’ eyes.
After the first Technology batter of the game reached on an error, Calistoga catcher Adan Rodriguez caught the runner stealing second. Later, in the second inning, with Titans on first and second, a single looked bound to score a run. But the Calistoga defense smoothly relayed the ball from center to home in time to get the runner and end the inning.
Christian Caldera then single-handedly turned a double play in the third. Fellow freshman and starting pitcher Jonathan Koffler turned one in the fourth on a liner he snagged, and doubled off a runner on base.
Caldera then turned another double play to get the Wildcats out of the sixth.
The Wildcats flexed their offensive muscles on Tuesday as well. Rojas-Mendoza probably flexed the hardest, hitting a two-run, inside-the-park home run in Calistoga’s big third inning. He finished 2-for-4 with a team-high three RBIs.
Koffler did his best to help his cause with a 3-for-3 day at the plate. On the bump, he went 3 1⁄3 innings and allowed four earned runs.
Caldera added a 3-for-4 day with a double, an RBI and three stolen bases.
Calistoga is now entering the second half of its season. The Wildcats have six games left and are still fighting for a playoff berth. They’ll travel to league-leading St. Vincent on Friday for a 4 p.m. game.
Calistoga sweeps Tomales in doubleheader
The Wildcats built their winning streak on Friday afternoon in a home doubleheader sweep of Tomales.
Calistoga won the first game 9-7 and the second 4-3.
In Game 1, the Wildcats scored three runs in the second, four more in the fifth, added another in the sixth, and held off a late rally to clinch the win.
Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two stolen bases, while Rojas-Mendoza went 1-for-3 with three RBIs.
Caldera got the win on the mound, pitching four innings and allowing two runs with five walks and five strikeouts. Rodriguez also earned the save by pitching the final three innings and striking out six.
Game 2 only lasted five innings, but the Wildcats once again came out victorious – even though they trailed 3-0 in the first inning.
Calistoga responded with a run in their half of the first and three more in the second and carried the 4-3 lead to the end.
Rodriguez earned the win, going three innings on the mound while surrendering three runs and three walks but striking out seven. Caldera pitched the last two innings and struck out one to earn the save.
Offensively, Rojas-Mendoza and Caldera paced the Wildcats, with the former going 1-for-1 with an RBI and a stolen base and the latter 1-for-3 with an RBI, a stolen base and a run.
Calistoga outlasts Rincon Valley Christian
The Wildcats started their winning ways last Wednesday in a make-up game at Rincon Valley Christian.
Leading 2-1 heading into the second, Calistoga erupted for 13 runs in the frame. The Eagles, though, ensured they would not be run-ruled as they answered with six runs of their own in the second and then added two more in each of the third and fifth innings.
The Wildcats would hang on to their lead en route to a 16-12 win.
Koffler went 3-for-4 with four RBIs with two doubles and a triple to pace the Wildcats, who also got a 4-for-4, two-RBI day out of Rodriguez and a 2-for-2, three-RBI day out of Rojas-Mendoza.
The Wildcats were also 15 of 16 on stolen base attempts as well.
Koffler got the win on the mound, going 5 1/3 innings while striking out 10.