Tuesday afternoon’s tilt between the Fremont Firebirds and Harker Eagles was certainly an inauspicious start for the home squad. With southpaw Dylan Gray on the mound, the Firebirds fell behind early, giving up a run in each of the second and third innings. Gray however would ground the Eagles’ offensive attack from there on out and the Firebirds bats went to work in support. After cutting the deficit in half with a run in the bottom of the third, Fremont unloaded with a four-run barrage in the fifth. Gray then took the mound for the final two innings with a three-run lead and shut the door, going six up and six down to finish off the 5-2 win.
“He’s the kind of pitcher that if he gives up a couple runs early, he’s usually ok. He usually settles down,” said Fremont Head Coach Brett Bashinger. “He’s tough as nails. He threw 11 complete games for us last year. He’s used to getting down early and then keeping us in the ball game.”
“I missed a few spots early in the game and didn’t have my best stuff,” admitted Gray on his performance on the mound. “I kept trusting my guys behind me, kept on attacking the zone and that helped me find my rhythm.”
After scratching across just one run through the first four innings, the Fremont offense finally found their own rhythm in the fifth inning. With one away and nobody on, catcher Eric Heuchert got things started with a chopper up the middle that the Eagles’ shortstop was unable to handle cleanly. Danny Moreno then followed up with a solid single through the five-and-a-half hole.
Next batter Joshua Shiu came through with the perfect swinging bunt. The ball rolled slowly towards the third baseman, out of reach of the pitcher. Eventually the third baseman’s attempt to get Shiu out at first would end up getting past the first baseman allowing Heuchert to come around to score.
With the game now tied, Ryan Kao immediately put the Firebirds in the lead by knocking a sharp single to left field. Two batters later, Spencer Nogavich knocked a two-out, two-run single to right field, cashing in key insurance runs.
“During that last AB he showed me a first pitch curve and I hadn’t seen the curve yet and he made the mistake of throwing it again,” remarked Nogavich on his clutch single. “I know as a pitcher, if you throw two curves in a row, that second one is getting hit to bang town.”
With the win, the Firebirds improve to 2-0-1 on the season, a year after they won just five games total all last season.
“These guys are working hard, they come out every day and they are doing what we ask them to do,” praised Bashinger. “I feel the atmosphere is a lot better than in years past. These guys are buying into what we are doing.”
Fremont will take the diamond looking to improve to 3-0-1 on Saturday, March 7 when they host Overfelt.