After dropping their first game of the double-elimination tournament on Monday against Mountain View by a score of 9-4, the Briarwood All Stars bounced back strong Tuesday afternoon with a 7-1 victory over Sunnyvale Metro to keep their season alive. Ace pitcher and cleanup hitter Toby Esqueda pitched four solid innings, allowing just one run and hitting an insurance two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth.
“I was locating the fastball on the outside well, but my slider wasn’t working,” noted Esqueda on how his repertoire of pitches were working. “I couldn’t really get a good feel for the slider, but I was able to locate my fastball inside and outside.”
“Toby did really great today, obviously came in clutch,” said teammate Sage Romero who finished off the game on the mound for the last two innings. “He sealed the deal for us, made it easy as my job as a pitcher, just going in there with a big lead and being able to stay relaxed on the mound.”
For one of the bigger and stronger kids on the team, Esqueda does a quality job at not overthrowing or trying to do too much at the plate.
“I don’t know how to describe him. Sometimes I don’t know if he’s down on himself or super excited because he’s such a mellow kid,” remarked Briarwood Manager Carlos Escobedo on Esqueda. “He’s very even keeled out there, if he’s not hitting home runs, he can drive in runs in other ways. I don’t want to say we’re built around him, but he’s the heart of the team for sure.”
While Esqueda put the game away late, early on it was Romero who got the offense cooking. In the third inning with the bases loaded and nobody out, Romero served a single into right field to knock in a pair of runs, putting Briarwood up 3-0.
“I’ve been in a groove lately,” remarked Romero on whether the team made adjustments at the plate Tuesday after Monday’s loss. “So for me, not really. Just trying to keep getting base hits for my team and help get guys on base.”
Overall, the Briarwood group played a much cleaner game defensively against Sunnyvale. In that Monday loss, the defense was not up to its usual standards. On Tuesday, the defense was much better overall. The biggest highlight was probably Mateo Escobedo making a nice play at second base ranging to his left and getting the runner out at first for the second out of the inning. Had Escobedo not made the play, Sunnyvale would have had first and third with only one out.
“It was definitely a cleaner game than yesterday. Yesterday, we were a bit sloppy in the infield,” admitted Coach Escobedo. “That was a really nice play coming to [Mateo Escobedo’s] left, he was able to handle a tough hop and get it to first for the second out. That was huge, if he doesn’t get it then we are looking at first and third with only one out.”
Briarwood will have time off, before playing again Friday for a chance to advance to the Championship round of District 44.