The Fremont Firebirds varsity baseball squad snapped a three-game losing streak Tuesday afternoon by painting a batting masterpiece against the Milpitas Trojans. Fremont tallied 14 runs on a whopping 16 hits over 7 innings, eventually winning by a 14-3 final score.
However, despite the offensive outburst, arguably the biggest play of the game was delivered by the designated defensive player.
At the high school level, teams are allowed to use a designated hitter and a designated defensive player, the latter of whom does not always have to be the pitcher. In this case, Fremont’s catcher Oliver Chang was the designated defensive player. And whilst he didn’t have a plate appearance offensively, Chang’s play on a wild pitch with the bases loaded to cut down a potential tying run at the plate was the turning point in the game.
The Firebirds were in a precarious situation with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the second, holding just a one-run lead at 3-2. Fremont pitcher Makaio Mullins had just walked a batter, the second free pass issued in the inning. Now facing the Trojans’ number three batter, Mullins threw a fastball that sailed over Chang’s head to the backstop. Chang quickly popped out of his crouch, pounced on the ball and delivered a perfect throw to Mullins, who dropped the tag down on the runner sliding into home for the third and final out of the inning.
“Bases loaded, two outs, if they get that run and he’s safe, that could have turned everything around for them,” chimed Fremont Head Coach Brett Bashinger. “It was huge that we made that play, we have been working on things like that in practice and they executed it perfectly.”
“Obviously I didn’t mean to throw it over his head,” chuckled Mullins on the play. “The bounce came right back to him. Lucky bounce. He gave me a good throw and I put the tag down.”
“I knew Makaio would be there,” chimed Chang. “So, I just had to get it to him and he would do the rest.”
The Fremont offense would do the rest as they immediately started pouring on the insurance runs the very following half-inning. In the top of the third, shortstop Samik Singh crushed a double that one-hopped the left-field fence. Mullins would single him home to increase the lead to 4-2.
The Firebirds would add another run in the inning to make it 5-2 over the Trojans. It was the fourth inning where they blew it wide open though. Fremont batted around the lineup, scoring 6 runs, to up the lead to 11-2.
Along with Singh, leadoff man Winston Wu also crushed a double that one-hopped the fence, but otherwise, it was a singles attack. Crosby Walick, Patrick Bartido and Mihir Borkar all had RBI singles in the fourth to add to the lead.
Fremont will now look to keep the offensive mojo going when they host Saratoga on March 31.