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Pitching, Bottom-Third of the Lineup Lead the Charge for Wilcox

Wilcox starting pitcher Jarrett Chapman dazzled on the mound in Monday’s 3-0 victory over the Fremont Firebirds. The junior threw six-shutout innings allowing just one hit before giving way to senior Nathan Aggarwal for a three-up, three-down save. The Chargers, (11-11, 5-5) would score all three of their runs during a two-out rally in the second inning powered by the bottom part of the lineup. Each of the Chargers bottom three hitters came up with solid line drive hits, taking pressure off the usual offensive leaders. That bottom-third surge ended up being plenty of support to back Chapman’s stellar pitching. The Firebirds (5-13, 3-5) simply had no answers for Chapman’s combination of two-seam fastball movement and devastating curveball. After a rocky first inning where he allowed two walks, Chapman wouldn’t allow a single runner to reach second base.

“I was feeling pretty good,” commented Chapman on his performance.  “The two-seam fastball got that cut, the curveball was getting in there for strikes.”

“I thought [Chapman] did a good job of throwing strikes,” noted coach Paul Rosa filling in for Head Coach David Currie. “He got behind a few times, but ended up coming back. We just don’t want to give up free passes and he did a good job when he was behind of coming back.”

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In the Chargers’ second-inning rally, everything started with two outs and nobody on base. Devin Baddo–recently called up from the JV squad–roped a single down the right-field line. He would end up on second base after a pick-off attempt by the catcher went all the way into right field. The following batter, Kevin Downey would hit a soft grounder to third base. The throw pulled the first baseman off the bag and Downey would be ruled safe. Meanwhile Baddo never stopped running. He rounded third and scored while Fremont thought they had the final out of the inning.

Following Downey’s at-bat was third baseman and No. 9 hitter Alexis Ramirez who delivered the biggest hit of the game. Ramirez clobbered an outside fastball off the base of the wall in left-center field for an opposite-field RBI triple. Ramirez would then score on a perfectly placed bunt single by leadoff man Taiga Sato.

“[Ramirez] has been working pretty hard about not rolling over the ball to the right side,” chimed Rosa on his senior third baseman. “He finally stayed inside a ball really well and drove it good.”

In the bottom of the fourth, Downey would pick up a line drive single and Ramirez would again smoke a ball into the gap. This time around though the line drive would hang up long enough for the center fielder to run under it for the third out of the inning.

“I thought even some of the outs we had, our guys took good swings,” recalled Rosa. “Those guys batted with some confidence in the bottom of the order.”

After the bottom three hitters came through in the bottom of the second, Chapman kept the momentum squarely in the Wilcox dugout with a quick 1-2-3 shut-down inning in the top of the third.

“Always gotta try and get a quick 1-2-3, especially when you get those runs, get momentum, keep it going,” remarked Chapman. “Alex hit that triple, that was pretty big, [bottom of the order] they came through, they really did.”

Wilcox is now off until April 19 when they take on Milpitas, one of just four games left on the regular season schedule.

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