The Mustang Quakes and Cyclones delivered solid pitching, hitting, and fielding in their March 24 contest. Although the Quakes jumped out to a big early lead, the Cyclones never gave up. The Quakes came out on top, 13-10, behind the big hitting of Asher Takazawa and the pitching of Jackson Tarino.
Elliot Becker took the mound as the Cyclones starter and threw plenty of strikes. But the Quakes came out swinging! Leadoff hitter Asher Takazawa started the game by smashing a two-strike double down the left field line. With one out, Will Myers and Floris Haan delivered RBI singles. The Quakes reached their five-run maximum for the inning when Ben McMurtry (substituting from his Pinto team), lined a single to center to knock in the fourth and fifth runs.
With a five-run lead, Quakes starter Jackson Tarino took the mound. After the leadoff hitter struck out, the Cyclones got two infield singles from Gabriel Pierre and Jude Rivas, who also had an RBI. Following a walk and a stolen base, Jack Miller came to the plate with runners on second and third. Miller delivered a hard single to right field to drive in Jude Rivas. But the Quakes delivered the first great defensive play of the day, with McMurtry delivering a perfect throw to first baseman Theo Barber, who relayed to catcher Floris Haan to get the Cyclones runner at home. Inspired by the great defensive play, Tarino delivered himself by striking out the next batter. After the first inning, the Quakes had built a 5-2 lead.
The Quakes started the 2nd inning right where they left off the 1st – hitting the ball hard! Takazawa led off and hit the first pitch out of the park over the left field fence. Some fans estimated that the towering fly ball traveled about 400 feet; a more realistic estimate was about 200 feet. Asked after the game what went through his mind when he hit the ball, Takazawa remarked, “It was a mind-blowing shot, it was like ‘BOOM.’” Cyclone pitcher Alex Hatten-Kutter continued to throw strikes and rely on his teammates to make plays behind him. The Quakes’ Jake Giordano followed the homer with a single to left, and promptly stole second and third base. With two strikes, Jackson Tarino hit a shot to left field that looked like a sure double. But the Cyclones’ Finley Zielke made a great play, catching the liner and throwing back to third base for the double-play, as Giordano had broken for home at the crack of the bat. The Quakes ending the inning with a 10-2 lead.
Tarino came back out to pitch the bottom of the 2nd. He continued to throw strikes, and the defense behind him sparkled. Shortstop Jake Giordano made two great plays. Cyclone Theo Barber hit a hard grounder to short, but Giordano threw him out on a bang-bang play at first. Two batters later, Luke Ironside hit a hard liner that Giordano snared. Tarino finished off his day on the mound with a strikeout. His solid effort included two innings pitched, with three strikeouts and only two runs allowed.
Cyclone Gabriel Pierre took the mound for the top of the 3rd. After striking out the leadoff hitter and walking Jackson Tarino, it was time for some more quality defense by the Cyclones. Will Myers hit a hard grounder to second, and the Cyclones Jack Miller made a slick fielding play and threw Myers at first. After a couple of walks, the Quakes Declan Bair earned his first RBI of the game by forcing in a run on a walk. The Quakes scored another run when Oliver Haan hit a hard single to third. With the bases loaded and the potential for the Quakes to get an insurmountable lead, Jake Rivas came in and delivered a strikeout.
Heading into the bottom of the 3rd, the Quakes had built a 12-2 lead. But the Cyclones showed discipline at the plate, earning five walks in the inning. Chase Knapp and Hatten-Kutter especially had great at-bats before walking. Numerous times, the Cyclones batters fouled off pitches to stay alive at the plate. When the Cyclones put the ball in play, Quakes pitcher Floris Haan did a great job fielding two comebackers and throwing to first baseman Asher Takazawafor two outs. With the bases loaded and two outs, the Cyclone’s Luke Ironside came to the plate. On a two-one count, Luke lined the ball to the left center gap. As his teammates raced around the bases, Ironside made his way to second for a stand-up, three-RBI double. It was the hit the Cyclones needed to mount their comeback. With three innings in the book, the Cyclones had closed the game to 12-7.
With time running short, it looked like the 4th inning would be the last of the day. The Cyclones needed to keep the game close so they could use their final at bat to win the game. After walking the lead-off hitter, Jake Rivas snared a comebacker and threw to Gabrielle Pierre at first for the out. After a walk and a strike out, Floris Haan delivered a two-out single to score Asher Takazawa and push the lead to 13-7. The Quakes’ Theo Barber hit a hard grounder to first, but the Cyclones’ Gabrielle Pierre snared it and got the final out of the inning.
In their final at bat, the Cyclones continued their approach from the third inning—they battled. John Bunje, Henry Brennan, and Gabriel Pierre all earned walks to load the bases. Lefty reliever Jake Giordano entered the game and struck out two of the next five batters, but Jack Miller, Jude Rivas and Finley Zielke all walked. The Cyclones had closed the gap to 13-10, and the bases were still loaded with hot-hitting Luke Ironside up to the plate. On a 3-1 count, he hit it hard, but right back at the pitcher. Giordano fielded the grounder and made a good throw to Takazawa at first to preserve the win.
The Quakes and Cyclones delivered a really enjoyable game at Hampton Park. We saw some great hitting, fielding, and pitching, and expect good things from both teams this year.