The Pirates of San Leandro showed up to Dublin High School wearing their home white uniforms, an interesting choice to say the least. This game would have playoff implications and the Gaels finally found themselves behind for the first time this season.
Dublin starter, Nolan Long, struggled to find the strike zone and didn’t get much help from his defense. After 1.1 innings pitched, the Gaels then looked to junior right handed pitcher JJ Burgess for the 3rd time this season. Burgess, getting used to seeing action out of the bullpen, took the mound with Dublin trailing 3-0, bases loaded and 1 out. Looking for the double play ground ball, Burgess promptly hits the first batter he faces allowing another run to score (4-0). Unable to faze the junior pitcher, Burgess stepped back on the mound and delivered a perfect ground ball to Chamberlain at shortstop, who flipped the double play with second baseman Elijah Lee to stop the damage.
As the Gaels came off the field they were greeted by their coaches and bench players. Head Coach Ed Dean reminded the team of what was important and not to get ahead of themselves. The message was simple; keep battling! It was early in the game and there was plenty of time left to make a comeback. Coach Ed emphasized to win every pitch from here on out. The Gaels did exactly that! Burgess continued to hold down the Pirates bats until the offense could get going. The San Leandro starting pitcher was effective with his fastball ranging from 84-86mph, however, his offspeed pitches couldn’t find the strike zone.
The bottom of the 4th inning was all Dublin as 9 hitters came to the plate. Leading off the inning was senior Eric Morales. As the saying goes, “you see something new everyday”, and with a 3-2 count, that is exactly what happened. The umpire decided to make Morales take out an earring, which after about a 5-6 minute delay, the earring would not come out. As another saying goes, “be ready when your number is called” would also come into play! As the Gaels had to make a sudden change, Justin McDaniel was brought in off the bench to replace Morales. With a 3-2 count McDaniel does what he always does and competes! The next pitch was ball 4, and McDaniel jogged down to first base for a hard earned 1 pitch walk. Scott Grier singled to left field and Elijah Lee advanced both runners on a hard hit ground ball in the hole between 1st and 2nd base. The second baseman collected the first out of the inning throwing out Lee at first base. With runners at 2nd and 3rd Chamberlain stepped to the plate and delivered a huge knock for the Gaels on a line drive to left field. McDaniel scored and Dublin now had runners at the corners. Ethan Liao takes his turn and hits a hard ground ball to shortstop, however the ball is thrown away allowing another run to score. With runners still at the corners, and Dublin now trailing 4-2, Fernando Sansone walked to load the bases with only 1 out. Alex Gaela had pretty much been on fire to start the season and continued with his dominance at the plate by hitting a laser back up the middle into center field scoring 2 runners and tying the game 4-4! With runners back on the corners, Alex Gaela was picked-off first base giving the Pirates their second out of the inning. Koby Seely was the batter for the Gaels, and connected on a hard ground ball in the hole between 3rd base and shortstop. The shortstops throw would go over the first baseman’s head, and the Gaels would get the go-ahead run they’d been looking for.
Now leading 5-4, the Gaels turned the ball over to senior pitcher Scott Grier. Grier worked through the 5th and 6th innings before finding himself in a situation the Gaels had become all too familiar with. After a lead-off strikeout, the Pirates then loaded the bases on a hit by pitch and 2 singles. With the bases loaded, the San Leandro hitter squared the bat to lay down a squeeze bunt. The bunt attempt was missed, and the runner coming home from 3rd had nowhere to go as Dublin catcher Koby Seely tagged him out giving the Gaels their 2nd out of the inning. With a 3-2 count, Grier pumped a fastball by the Pirate hitter and the Dublin team executed another hard fought victory.
The Gaels had a great turnout from fans including family members, teachers, administrators, former players, college recruiters, and students. It was the perfect ending to a game that could have gotten away from the Gaels. The resiliency and toughness developed in the off-season helped prevail the Gaels during these tough and challenging situations. Staring at 5-0 now the Gaels knew they truly had something special. Out of all the ups and downs, it was the chomrodariy and team chemistry that made these 5 games so special. No matter how far down they got, they never quit! An attitude the Gaels would need in every game this season, especially, in game # 6.
Player Of The Game – JJ Burgess (2.2 innings of shutout ball, neutralized the San Leandro offense, kept the Gaels within striking distance)
Dublin Wins 5-4! Record 5-0