The bleachers were filled to maximum capacity at Huntsinger Park as the fans anticipated the start of another Dragons home game. For the second time in three days, the Foothill boys’ varsity baseball team faced off against the Flashes of Fillmore High School.
The first meeting was dominated by the Dragons, as they recorded a 6-0 victory. On Friday, Fillmore kept the game competitive, but they were unable to steal the win. Despite eight errors by Foothill, they logged clutch at-bats in the late stages of the game and beat the Flashes in extra innings with a final score of 7-6.
Starting pitcher Dale Starr ‘17 had no trouble in the top half of the first inning, striking out two batters while only allowing one baserunner. Despite a leadoff base hit from Dylan Tamburri ‘17, the Dragons were also unable to get anything going as the Flashes’ starting pitcher logged two strikeouts en route to an easy inning of his own.
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Fillmore came up empty again in the second inning as they fell victim to another two strikeouts from Starr, who recorded a one-two-three inning. Foothill got off to a blazing start in their half of the inning, loading the bases with singles from Starr, Ryan Tamburri ‘17, and Tyler Hong ‘20, respectively. Collin Vallance ‘18 put the Dragons ahead 1-0 when he hit a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Starr to score the first run of the game. Troy Lindemann followed by drawing a walk to re-load the bases, but the Fillmore starting pitcher was able to record an inning-ending strikeout to limit the damage.
The Flashes led off the third inning with a base hit, and the runner advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter sliced a base hit down the right field line, putting runners on the corners with one out. Starr allowed Fillmore to take the lead as the following batter had a long two-RBI single, putting the Flashes on the scoreboard. He was able to recover by inducing a double play that ended the threat and kept Fillmore’s lead at 2-1.
The Dragons came out swinging and their first two runners reached base safely in the bottom half of the third. Following their first out of the inning, Ryan Tamburri tied the game with a double into the gap which scored his teammate Jacob Bridges ‘18 and brought Starr to third base. Hong followed with a groundout that drove in Starr and helped Foothill retake the lead. The Dragons’ next batter was struck out, ending the rally.
Fillmore threatened once more in the fourth inning when they put runners on first and third with one out. However, Starr preserved Foothill’s 3-2 lead by setting down the next two batters. The Dragons were only able to muster one baserunner in their half of the fourth inning, and the runner was eventually erased on a ground ball double play.
Once again, the Flashes could not find the answer to the pitching of Starr, as he retired the side rather quickly in the fifth inning. Dillon Gallagher ‘19 led off with a single for the Dragons, but he was picked off. However, Foothill got another runner on first when Bridges drew a walk. Starr capitalized and sent a long fly ball to left field that hit the base of the fence, which allowed Bridges to score and extend the lead to two runs. Ryan Tamburri followed with an RBI single and Starr came around to score, stretching the Dragons’ lead to 5-2. The inning came to a close as the next two batters were retired by the Flashes’ starting pitcher.
Down three runs in the sixth inning, Fillmore attempted to erase the deficit and put themselves back into the game. Dylan Tamburri came out of the bullpen to pitch the inning and immediately found himself in trouble. The first batter singled to center field and his teammate reached on an error. The next batter drew a walk, and Tamburri faced a bases loaded situation with no outs.
The following at-bat yielded a pop fly to the Dragons’ right fielder Hong, but it was dropped, allowing a runner to score. Tamburri retired the next two batters, and appeared to be close to escaping the threat. However, a wild pitch caused another runner to score, cutting Foothill’s lead to 5-4. The Dragons were not able to add any insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, as they were set down while recording only one baserunner.
With a one run lead in the top of the seventh, the Dragons needed three outs to seal the victory. However, Foothill lost their lead due to costly errors. Two Fillmore players were able to come around and score during the inning, giving the Flashes a 6-5 lead.
The Dragons started the bottom of the seventh with a walk from Bridges. He stole second base and reached third on an error to put himself in scoring position. Ryan Tamburri came through once more, driving in Bridges to tie the game at 6-6. Tamburri proceeded to steal second base, but the Dragons’ rally was halted, sending the game into extra innings.
Hong came in to pitch for the Dragons in the eighth inning and held Fillmore off of the scoreboard. He kept the score tied, setting down the Flashes while allowing one hit and tallying a strikeout. In the bottom half of the eighth inning, Foothill initially couldn’t get on base as the Flashes’ relief pitcher retired the first two batters. However, Dylan Tamburri singled to left field and extended the inning.
With two outs, he advanced to second on a passed ball and took third base on a wild pitch. On a 2-1 count to Gallagher, the Fillmore pitcher threw a wild pitch that reached the backstop, allowing Tamburri to score the game-winning run which secured a win for the Dragons in walk-off fashion.
Regarding the errors, head coach Clint Ellison noted that the team “just struggled defensively” in the game, as they were not able to capitalize on “routine plays that we are normally very, very good with.” However, he loved the persistent efforts that his team gave, which allowed them to come away with a win.
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“We did not give up,” he said. “We kept fighting until the very end and came out on top.”
Dylan Tamburri noted that his performance was not ideal due to the fact that he allowed four runs in his two innings of work. However, he redeemed himself by scoring the game-winning run.
“It felt good,” he said. “Coach was telling me to be that winning run, try to get on base as much as you can.”
Reflecting on the game, Ryan Tamburri expressed that “it’s always a good win to walk off.”
“It feels really good,” he said. “It just pumps everyone up.”
Ryan Tamburri went four-for-four and drove in a team-high of three runs in Friday’s victory.
The Dragons, who are 7-5 on the season, look to carry their confidence into their next contest, which is a road game against the Nordhoff Rangers on Friday, April 7. Nordhoff currently is winless on the season with a record of 0-10.