Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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Pierce baseball season ends in heartbreak

Pierce’s Ryan Travis hustles into third base during the first round of the NSCIF Division IV playoffs in Willows on May 13. Travis would score the Bears’ lone run in the game.

For the second time in a week the Pierce Bears and Willows Honkers needed extra frames to determine the outcome, but unlike the previous contest, this time the Bears found themselves on the short end of a 2-1 score, bringing an end to their 2022 season.

In Willows on Friday, May 13 for the first round of the Northern Section CIF Division IV playoffs, the No. 5 Bears gave the No. 4 Honkers all they could handle, but in the end managed just three hits and an unearned run against Willows and its lefty pitcher Adrian Figueroa.

Pierce wasn’t without opportunity, however, having a chance in the second inning after back-to-back two-out singles by Danny Rubio and Sid Charter, but could not capitalize as Figueroa closed the door with a strikeout.

Yet in the fourth inning, the Bears were able to scratch out the game’s first run after a leadoff single by Ryan Travis got things started.

Following an unproductive out, Luke Myers grounded out to the right side, but Travis was aggressive on the bases advancing to third, and then came in to score when the Honkers’ catcher threw the ball into left field trying to back pick Travis.

Unfortunately for Pierce it would be its only run of the game, and Willows would come back in the bottom of the sixth as Figueroa helped his own cause by singling to drive in the tying run.

The Bears missed out on another chance to push a run across in the seventh when, with a runner at third, confusion surrounding the umpire’s call on what was ultimately ruled a swinging strike completed by a catcher to first base throw effectively ended the frame.
On the mound, Brayden Hoebel performed admirably, keeping the Honkers off the board until the fifth, striking out nine, scattering four hits and issuing just two free passes before reaching his pitch threshold in the seventh.

Luke Myers entered the game in the bottom of the eighth, and after surrendering a lead off hit to Figueroa and hitting a batter, had the Bears a pitch away from getting out of the inning when disaster struck.

An error on a sharply hit chopper allowed Willows to plate the game winner and avenge the previous week’s defeat by handing Pierce the hard-luck loss.

Although there was an issue raised by the Bears related to the number of pitches thrown by Figueroa, who recorded the complete game win, it appears that he was one below the limit of 110 pitches permitted by the rules, when the final Bear batter came to the plate.
Despite not ending in Pierce’s favor, it was a well-played, pitcher’s duel that should leave the Bears (9-15) feeling good about the future, given that Hoebel, Myers, Rubio and Charter should headline the group of returners. ■

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