The Highlanders dropped the WACC-Shoreline Division championship game 3-1 to Encinal on May 9 at Laney College. Neither Highlander starting pitcher Ryan Fitzgerald nor reliever Alex Hilton allowed an earned run, and they combined for 4 strikeouts and only 1 walk. Fitzgerald went 4 complete innings, and Hilton pitched the final 3 innings. Encinal scored their 3 runs with the help of Piedmont fielding miscues, and the game remained tight until the last out.
Fitzgerald set down the Jets in order in the first inning, with the help of a nice sliding catch by right fielder Joe Sassi.
Trent Settlemier led off the Highlander 1st with a well-struck single to left. Owen Levinson followed with a single of his own, and Settlemier advanced to third on the play. Kyle Spanier then laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt along the first base line that he beat out for a single, and Settlemier scored the first run of the game.
In the second inning, Encinal took the lead, as they converted a two-base Piedmont error and three hits into two runs.
In Piedmont’s 3rd, the Highlanders threatened again when Settlemier led off with a single and Levinson was hit by a pitch. But Sassi then hit into a double play when Levinson was called out for interfering with the play at second. Settlemier had scored on an overthrow, but was ordered back to third on the interference call.
In the 4th, Encinal added their third run when another two-base error allowed a Jets runner to score.
The Highlanders kept pressing Encinal in the bottom of the 5th. Sanders worked a walk to lead off. Luke Harris pinch ran for Sanders, and Settlemier followed with his third single of the day. The inning and the threat ended when Encinal picked off both runners on a botched hit-and-run for their third unconventional double play of the game.
In the 6th, Piedmont kept coming. Levinson had his second hit of the day, and advanced to second on a ground out. The inning ended, though, as Levinson was caught trying to steal third.
Neither team scored in the 7th, and Encinal took the game 3-1. Fitzgerald and Hilton kept Piedmont in the game with strong pitching. Settlemeier had three hits, Levinson had two hits, and Spanier had the lone RBI.
After the game, the WACC-Shoreline All-League team was recognized for the crowd. Piedmont had strong representation, with senior second baseman Owen Levinson, senior right fielder Joe Sassi, senior center fielder Trent Settlemier, and junior left fielder/designated hitter Kyle Spanier all earning first-team honors. Senior pitcher/third baseman Ryan Fitzgerald and senior shortstop Jonah Sanders were named to the second team. Senior left fielder Lucas Derr and senior first basemen Paul Woolcott earned Honorable Mention.
Piedmont begins NCS play-offs next Wednesday with the opponent and location to be determined.
Photos by Julie Moll