Unless you’re sitting atop the Bay Division standings of the Peninsula Athletic League in boys’ baseball, there is no such thing as being “comfortable” — a handful of games into the season, and everyone is within two or three games of each other.
And so, Friday’s matchup between Aragon and Half Moon Bay high schools was big in that two middle of the pack teams that are off to rough starts could begin to build some momentum with a win.
Coming into the game, that team appeared to be Aragon, who used four Cougar errors on Wednesday to come away with a 7-2 win behind the pitching of Aldo Severson.
But seven innings later, Half Moon Bay proved just how crazy the rest of the PAL Bay season could be.
The Cougars used three Aragon errors and five hits to score all four of their runs on Friday. That, combined with a complete-game, four-hit gem by Peter Richardson, translated to a big 4-1 win.
“We really needed this game if we wanted to get back into the Bay race,” said Half Moon Bay manager Steve Terraszas. “There’s no gimme’s in the PAL Bay. Getting this one was good.”
“You have to tip your hat to the Half Moon Bay pitcher,” said Aragon manager Lenny Souza. “He kept us off-balanced all day. Got ahead. Didn’t walk anybody. He did a real good job. Gave us fits. We didn’t do a great job of swinging the bat today. It is what it is.”
Richardson frustrated Aragon bats the entire afternoon — with the exception of a fastball that Severson deposited over the right field fence in the bottom of the fourth inning. And from the game’s onset, it actually looked like we were in for a great pitcher’s duel.
Chris Hahn was solid for the first three innings of the game. But unfortunately for the right-hander, his defense came undone in the fourth and the Cougars took full advantage.
The frame started with a fly ball to left field that fell between two Aragon defenders. That non-play was followed by a hit-and-run double into the right-field gap off the bat of Peter Bacich that gave Half Moon Bay the lead. Tom Howell followed with a bunt that Hahn pawed but could not get a throw off on, giving the Cougars runners on first and second with no out.
After a fly ball, the Aragon defense gave the Cougars another run when an attempted steal on a wild pitched turned into a throwing error into left field. Bacich scored easily to make it 2-0. Richardson then followed with a bunt that started foul and then swerved its way back into the infield, hitting the bag and giving the Cougars even more base runners.
Then, after another fly ball, Resse Hammerstrom and Brad Kelly really made the inning sting with back-to-back singles that gave Half Moon Bay its 4-0 lead.
“We tried to be a little more aggressive on the bases,” Terraszas said, “and ... make them play catch for a change — put pressure on their defense.”
“Take away that inning, and it’s a tight ball game,” Souza said. “It’s unfortunate, but you have to be able to not make mistakes in close ball games. I think we’re all very disappointed. I think we all thought this was our chance to get back in the hunt. Now we’re really going to have to get after it next week. We’re all having a tough time with it because we feel like we have a lot of talent on the team. It’s just not coming through when we need it to.”
“We gave them four runs last time,” Terraszas said, “We knew if we cut out the errors, pitched a good game, we’d be alright. We can swing the bat with the best of them, I think. It’s just a matter of defense and pitching — with a senior on the mound and 10 seniors on the team, we should have the ability to do that.”
“That inning got extended,” Souza said. “Hahn is not a 30-pitch inning kind of kid. He’s a 10-pitch inning kind of kid. And when we don’t play behind him 100 percent of the time, people are going to score runs against him. But what you saw from him the first three innings is what should have kept going. We just lost focus in that inning. It’s unfortunate.”
Severson’s one-out home run looked like a sign of life for Aragon in the fourth. But apparently, Richardson was having none of that. After the bomb, Richardson allowed just two more base runners.
“For the most part, I was just throwing strikes — fastballs,” Richardson said. “And I was just letting my defense do the work. We were a little down (after Wednesday), but we knew we had to come in here and get a win. I wanted to go out there and give my best performance to give us a chance.”
“He pitched, certainly his best league game, maybe the best game he’s pitched all year long,” Terraszas said. “He had his stuff, he was pitching from ahead which made a huge difference. We played good defense and didn’t make any errors.”