Following a commanding 12-0 victory against the Wildcats of Villanova Preparatory School just two days earlier, the boys’ varsity baseball looked to steal a win against the team for the second time in three days. On Friday, the weather at Huntsinger Park was rather cold, but the Dragons’ offense was scorching hot all game long. A masterpiece by Dale Starr ‘17, ten stolen bases and an offensive onslaught all contributed to Foothill’s drubbing of Villanova with a final score of 11-0.
In the first inning, Starr pounded the strike zone, resulting in three quick outs to set down the Wildcats in order. Dylan Tamburri ‘17 initiated Foothill’s offense in the bottom half of the inning with a base hit, and he made his way to third base due to a balk by the Villanova starting pitcher and a stolen base shortly after. His teammate Jacob Bridges ‘18 put the Dragons on the scoreboard and gave them a 1-0 lead with an RBI groundout to the Wildcats’ shortstop.
After striking out the first batter in the top of the second inning, Villanova reached base for the first time on an error. However, the baserunner was quickly erased when Starr fired over to Troy Lindemann ‘18 at first base, who applied the tag and picked him off. Starr promptly recorded the third out with a punch out, his second of the inning. Although Trey Casswell ‘18 singled and reached third base via two stolen bases, Foothill could not score him in the bottom of the second inning. Casswell was stranded after the Wildcats’ starting pitcher ended the threat with back-to-back strikeouts.
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Starr made quick work of the Wildcats in the third inning and retired the side for his third straight scoreless frame. The Dragons came out swinging in their half of the inning, as Lindemann and Dylan Tamburri each recorded a base hit with no outs. Despite primarily being a pitcher, Starr did not limit himself to dominance on just the mound, but he also came through at the plate many times for Foothill. He lined a base hit into right field, scoring two runs and extending the lead to 3-0.
The Wildcats finally recorded their first hit of the contest in the fourth inning, as Starr’s short bid for a no-hitter was broken up. However, the runner was left stranded on first base as Starr worked his way around the dilemma en route to another scoreless inning. Dillon Gallagher ‘19 led off the bottom half of the fourth by drawing a walk and put himself into scoring position with a steal of second base. Lindemann would not let this opportunity go to waste for the Dragons, as he connected and drove a ball into the left field gap to score Gallagher, increasing the lead to four runs.
While the Wildcats were unable to get anything going against Starr, the Dragons fared quite the opposite in the fifth inning. Bridges and Ryan Tamburri ‘17 set the table with two consecutive hits, setting up runners on second and third with no outs. Tyler Hong ‘20 then stretched the Dragons’ lead to 5-0 with a bloop single that scored Bridges. After the following batter lined out to shortstop, Winfield White ‘17 proceeded to break the game open with a double, scoring two runners and extending the lead to seven runs.
Once again, Starr stymied the Wildcats’ offense and threw another scoreless frame in the top half of the sixth inning. Meanwhile, Foothill’s offense continued to score runs at a rapid pace, which eventually forced Villanova’s starter to exit the game. Bridges contributed another run-scoring single early in the sixth and eventually darted home after a wild pitch found its way to the backstop, padding the Dragons’ 9-0 lead. The final hit for the Dragons was a significant one: with the bases loaded, Karl Roth ‘18 connected and sent an extremely hard-hit line drive over the left fielder’s head. It was ruled a ground-rule double and two Dragons crossed home plate in the process, stretching the lead to 11-0.
As he did all game long, Starr set down the Wildcats with ease in the seventh inning. He finished his dominant outing as the last batter lined out to Zach Castro ‘17, capping a complete game shutout and a Dragons win.
According to Starr, the keys to his dominance featured “fastballs [and] throwing strikes.” Head coach Clint Ellison was impressed by the ace’s start and said that “[Starr] threw really well.”
“It was kind of a typical Dale outing,” Ellison said. “He throws a lot of strikes, gets them to swing early in the count, and good things happen.”
Villanova’s pitching arsenal featured a starting pitcher whose velocity was remarkably down, causing some of the Dragon hitters to get fooled by the speed early in the game, including Bridges.
“Normally I just go up there and swing as hard as I can,” Bridges explained. “But that guy was throwing like 60 miles per hour, so I had to force myself to wait back for the ball.”
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However, the Foothill hitters made a significant adjustment, leading to a ten run outburst in a span of four innings. Bridges noted that the team “simply just learned to wait on the ball” over the course of the game. Ellison was also pleased with the changes his team made despite the circumstances.
“We specifically worked on some slower pitching, knowing that [he] was going to be throwing against us,” Ellison said. “But the adjustments were made and we did really well.”
With the victory against the Wildcats, the Dragons improved their overall record to 14-7, as well as a 7-1 mark in league play. Not only did the win extend their win streak to five games; it also guaranteed the team a spot in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) playoffs.
The Dragons will play their final home game on Senior Night next Tuesday when they take the field at Huntsinger Park to face their league opponents, the Toads of Thacher High School, who have a 7-5 record this season.
Ellison expressed the importance of Tuesday’s game and how much a win would mean to the departing seniors on the team.
“[Senior Night is] always big, it’s nice to send the seniors off with something,” he said. “It’d be pretty special to be League champs.”