As the sun beamed overhead, fans took their seats in the bleachers at Huntsinger Park baseball field as they awaited the start of the boys’ varsity baseball team’s first home game. On Tuesday, Foothill attempted to record their third win of the season as they faced off against the Malibu High School Sharks. In a game that lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours, Malibu established an early lead and never looked back, defeating the Dragons with a final score of 10-4.
In the first inning, both teams struggled at the plate. Malibu started by drawing a leadoff walk, but they were unable to capitalize as Ryan Tamburri ‘18 set down the next three batters in order. The Dragons sent three batters to the plate that inning, and all of them were unsuccessful as the Sharks’ starting pitcher retired the side.
Malibu followed with two singles to start the second inning, and the runners further advanced to second and third, respectively, due to a wild pitch. Although the next batter struck out swinging, the Sharks capitalized with a two-RBI double to put themselves on the scoreboard. Following the hit, Malibu loaded the bases with two outs, but they were unable to score. Foothill’s half of the inning yielded the same results as the previous one; they were shut down by the Sharks’ pitcher, although Trey Casswell ‘18 managed to get a base hit.
Malibu continued their offensive surge in the third with a one out triple to bring home a run. The runner on third managed to score as well on an errant pickoff attempt from Ryan Tamburri, and the following batter reached on an error and scored on an extra-base hit that got past the left fielder. Foothill attempted to respond in the bottom half, but the Sharks’ starting pitcher continued his dominance despite a rough patch. The Dragons left the bases loaded with two outs, and Malibu’s lead remained at 5-0.
In the fourth inning, Malibu tallied on another run with two consecutive doubles, stretching the lead to six. The Sharks quickly recorded two outs when the Dragons came to hit, but Foothill responded with two singles. Charlie Montano ‘19 attempted to cut into the lead but came up empty when he struck out looking, ending the inning.
Ryan Tamburri settled down in the fifth, allowing no base hits and keeping Malibu from adding to their lead. However, the Sharks’ pitcher continued his dominance with another perfect inning which included two strikeouts.
After being held scoreless the previous inning, Malibu attempted to get back on the scoreboard. The first batter was retired on a fly ball to left field, but the next two batters reached base safely. The Dragons recovered by recording the second out on a lazy fly ball to center field. The next batter also hit a fly ball that appeared to be the final out of the inning, but the ball was dropped, allowing two runners to come around and score. This error extended Foothill’s deficit, and they trailed 8-0.
In the Dragons’ half of the inning, they faced a new pitcher as the Malibu starter was taken out of the game. He pitched five innings while recording eight strikeouts, and allowing no runs.. The Sharks’ relief pitcher ran into trouble early, as the Dragons loaded the bases with only one out. However, Malibu retired the final two batters in the inning, preventing the Dragons from getting on the scoreboard.
After six innings, Ryan Tamburri was taken out of the game and Troy Lindemann ‘18 came out of the bullpen to pitch the seventh inning. With two base hits and a walk, Malibu loaded the bases with no outs, threatening to score once again. They continued their offensive rampage with a double that scored two runners. The third runner attempted to score on the hit, but he was thrown out at home plate. Foothill recorded the final two outs of the inning and headed into the bottom of the seventh facing a 10-0 deficit.
Having allowed no runs through six innings, the Sharks attempted to pitch a combined shutout between their two pitchers. However, the Dragons would not go down without a fight. Dylan Tamburri ‘18 and Dillon Gallagher ‘19 each recorded a base hit to open Foothill’s half of the inning. Jacob Bridges ‘18 followed with a single of his own and Tamburri came around to score the Dragons’ first run of the game. The scoring run continued with a two-RBI base hit from Tyler Hong ‘20, which cut the Sharks’ lead to 10-3. Including the single, Hong recorded a team-high three hits in four at-bats.
Foothill added another run when the Malibu pitcher overthrew his second baseman on a pickoff attempt, allowing Ryan Tamburri to score. The Sharks put a halt to the Dragons’ rally after their fourth run as they set down the final three batters, ending the game with a final score of 10-4.
Reflecting on the loss, Head Coach Clint Ellison mentioned that the team needs to work on “situational hitting” because “we didn’t get that key hit when we needed it.”
Lindemann also believes that the team could benefit from improvement in all the facets of the game, including “hitting, defense, pitching, and just playing baseball.”
According to Ellison, the team “struggled at the beginning, but he was “excited” by the seventh inning rally that the Dragons put together.
“It’s good that we have the desire and the fight to not just give up and roll over,” he said. “But we need to have that from the first inning to the seventh.”
Casswell attributed most of the Dragons’ struggles to the inability to make contact early in the count. He believes that in order to win, “we need to work on getting ready to hit the ball on the first pitch.”
Ellison stated that his main goal for any season is “always to win the league,” and with plenty of games remaining in the regular season, he believes that the odds are in their favor.
“I think with the crew that we have, we stand a really good chance,” he said. “We just have to work on doing the little things correctly.”
The Dragons look to bounce back when they travel to compete against the Romans of Los Angeles High School on Friday. Ellison is “optimistic” about the upcoming matchup and he believes that it is “anybody’s game to win.”