Last Friday, the Foothill varsity boys’ baseball team traveled to Nordhoff High School and came up empty against the winless Rangers, and the Dragons were shut out with a final score of 1-0.
A performance like this was uncharacteristic for the Dragons’ offense, as they had scored five or more runs in each of their previous three contests. On Tuesday, Foothill attempted to rejuvenate their offensive attack when they squared off with the Cardinals of Bishop Diego High School on a windy day at Huntsinger Park.
Once again, scoring was a rare occurrence for both sides, but the pitching prevailed. Ryan Tamburri ‘17 was able to anchor Foothill by throwing a shutout, and the Dragons held on to beat the Cardinals with a final score of 1-0.
In the top of the first inning, starting pitcher Ryan Tamburri ‘17 found himself in a jam after allowing two consecutive singles. However, he settled down and recorded three straight outs, including a timely double play to end the inning. In their half of the inning, Foothill went up against the Cardinals’ starting pitcher: a hard-throwing right-hander who pounded the strike zone. The Dragons were retired in order to keep the game scoreless.
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Ryan Tamburri started strong in the second inning before giving up a two-out base hit. The runner reached second on a throwing error, but the threat was quickly eliminated once the following batter for Bishop Diego grounded out. Similar to the previous inning, the starting pitcher of the Cardinals made quick work of the Dragons’ offense with another one-two-three inning.
Once again, Bishop Diego was held off the scoreboard in the third inning despite having a runner on third base. Foothill took advantage of the Cardinals’ missed opportunity with a one-out single from Collin Vallance ‘18. A sacrifice bunt from Troy Lindemann ‘18 advanced Vallance to second base with two outs. Dylan Tamburri ‘17 followed with a long double to right-center field, scoring Vallance to give the Dragons a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth and fifth innings, Ryan Tamburri continued his impressive pitching performance by facing the minimum amount of batters and preserving the Dragons’ lead. Foothill was unable to give their pitcher any run support in those two innings, as the Cardinals’ starting pitcher rebounded from the run he allowed in the third and rolled through the heart of the Dragons’ batting order.
Bishop Diego started the top half of the sixth inning with the top of the batting order, but the first two batters were unable to reach base. A two-out single was quickly erased when the next Cardinals batter grounded out. The Dragons attempted to add to their lead one last time in the bottom half of the inning, but they could only manage a single off of the starting pitcher for Bishop Diego.
Down to their final three outs, the Cardinals needed to spark a rally but they were halted once more by Ryan Tamburri. The seventh inning began with an incredible diving catch by Jacob Bridges ‘18 to save a hit. The last two hitters for Bishop Diego had no luck either; they were set down by Tamburri to end the game, resulting in a 1-0 victory for the Dragons.
Bridges’ diving catch clearly set the tone for the rest of the seventh inning, and he described the reactions of his teammates and others to the crucial moment.
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“I was going crazy, and after making that catch I look around, my whole team is screaming,” Bridges said. “Everyone is hyped up, I look up at Ryan [Tamburri] and he throws that thumbs up to me.”
Bridges mentioned his less-than-stellar performance at the plate, where he failed to reach base while striking out twice. However, he viewed his catch to be a form of “redemption.”
Head Coach Clint Ellison believed that the team played “very well” against the Cardinals, but he acknowledged that “the offense is still struggling a little bit with swinging the bats” and he offered areas for improvement.
“We need to be more aggressive,” he said. “We are watching too many first pitch fastballs go by us.”
Ryan Tamburri noted that Bishop Diego “was a little better caliber team” than their previous opponents, and he was proud of his team’s persistent effort throughout the game.
“We stayed on top of it and just got the job done,” he said.
The Dragons look to jump-start their offense on Thursday as they will face off against Bishop Diego once more, this time on the Cardinals’ home field.
Bridges explained that despite only scoring one run in their previous two games, the offense would undergo improvement in the coming weeks.
“During league [games], we are definitely going to be scoring more than we did in the preseason. Preseason was all getting ready,” he said. “Now we are ready; now we are getting hyped up and we are ready to explode.”