YOUNTVILLE — No team, player nor fan is ever truly satisfied with a tie.
The Napa Crushers have gotten used to deadlocks in the Napa Valley Joe DiMaggio Baseball 4th of July Invitational, however, notching a pair of draws in last year’s tournament and continuing the trend with a 4-4 result against the Bay Area Bombers of Hayward on a sunny Friday afternoon at Cleve Borman Field.
“It’s tough. To me, especially in a tournament atmosphere like that, a tie is almost like kissing your sister,” said Crushers head coach Mike Dozler. “It is what it is. The kids played hard today. We just need to get back to the basics.”
After dropping their tournament opener in a high-scoring 11-7 loss against the San Francisco Hawks on Thursday, Napa looked as if it would snag a win over the Bombers late in the game.
Trailing 3-2 in the sixth inning, Connor Ross got things rolling for Napa with a leadoff double. James Snoke and Zach Daniels followed with walks to load the bases, putting the Crushers in prime position to take the lead. But relief pitcher Justin Hernandez coaxed Napa into a strikeout and what looked to be a double play.
Upon second glance, however, the Bombers’ shortstop failed to tag second base, allowing Ross to tie things up at 3-3.
The bizarre play was followed by back-to-back walks to Daniel Jacinto and Christian Kappler, driving in Snoke and giving the Crushers a 4-3 lead heading into the seventh inning.
Jacinto started on the mound for Napa and tossed six full innings while notching four strikeouts, allowing three runs – two of which were earned – and going 1 for 3 with a walk, two stolen bases and run scored at the plate.
Jacinto didn’t pitch the seventh inning, however, which may have cost his team the win as Hernandez righted his wrongs with a game-tying fielder’s choice RBI.
“When I was hitting my spots, it seemed to work well for me,” Jacinto said. “I kept going with my fastball. My off-speed was a little shaky, but I found it a little bit. To come away with a tie, at least it’s better than a loss. We’ve just got to look forward to the next game.”
Jacinto gave himself some early support, scoring the game’s first run after an error from Bay Area’s center fielder allowed him to easily cross home plate in the first inning.
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He got himself out of a jam in the third inning, when he forced the Bombers’ Michon Cole into a bases-loaded, two-out, full-count flyout to a running Sebastian Dennis in right field that ended the inning.
Jacinto wasn’t so lucky in the next inning, when the East Bay foes scored three runs on RBIs from Daniel Vonnegut and Anthony Borrego sandwiched around a run scored by Matthew Pontes via a passed ball.
With Bay Area starting pitcher Phillip Coronado doing a good job of limiting the Crushers offensively, Napa took an aggressive approach on the basepaths, attempting to take extra bases any way possible.
That aggression backfired, however, as Crushers were gunned down thrice on the day.
“I was just trying to get something going,” Dozler said. “Their catcher did a hell of a job. He was on-point. One time when he threw one of our guys out, I think, it was a curveball to the outside corner and he still came up. I would have bet good money that he throws that high or to the left, but he gunned it and it was a bang-bang play.
“You’ve got to try to get things going and try to get guys in scoring position because we weren’t getting many guys on base. Sometimes you’ve got to try to manufacture some stuff. That’s baseball. That’s why we love it. It just doesn’t work sometimes.”
Napa will look for its first win of the tournament at 4:45 p.m. Saturday when it takes on a South City Rangers squad it’s never faced before.
After feeling the scorn of a loss and the unsettling reality of a tie, the Crushers are extra amped to grab a win.
“Oh, this makes us hungry,” Jacinto said of the tie. “It makes us hungry like it’s Thanksgiving dinner.”
In other Thursday games, it was the Napa Valley Baseball Club over the San Francisco Cardinals, 19-2, San Bruno over the River City Outlaws, 7-0, Sonoma Stack over the Half Moon Bay Birdmen, 7-6, the Santa Rosa Rebels over Power Baseball Club, 9-3, the Pacifica Gamecocks over Daly City, 2-0, and West Campus over the Vallejo Hustle, 3-2.