During a season in which a team has been playing sub-par baseball, all it takes is for one great game to turn the season around.
For the Vaqueros, their game against the L.A. Valley Monarchs would eventually be the game that would turn frowns into smiles, numbing fatigue into a burst of energy, and pessimism into optimism. It would be a game that would eventually unite the team, and hopefully start a winning streak going into the playoffs.
“Our backs were against the wall, but our team kept their heads up and we scored eight unanswered runs to win the game,” said head coach Chris Cicuto. With the Monarchs (7-9 through March 10) leading 7-1 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Vaqueros (6-9 through March 10) came up to bat looking to get back into the ballgame.
An innocent single by outfielder Pat Schulthies, who also had two walks in the game, started off the inning and was quickly followed by another single by second baseman Mark Torre.
With runners on first and second, shortstop and leadoff hitter Daniel Gomez continued the pattern and hit a single of his own, allowing Schulthies to score and making the game 7-2 with two runners on base.
The Monarchs are still up five runs. There is no need to panic at this point, right? No, but the Vaquero hitters were not done with the hitting parade.
First baseman David Quintana hit a sacrifice bunt advancing the runners to second and third base. Starting pitcher of the game Blake Gailen, who also gave up the seven runs, fouled out, getting the second out of the inning and putting the Vaqueros in a tough situation.
However, good teams can, and will, dig themselves out of holes, and that’s exactly what the Vaqueros were able to do.
Outfielder Bill Spottiswood stepped up to the plate and got an in-field single allowing Torre to score, making the game 7-3. The Vaqueros clearly had momentum on their side, but had also built the confidence needed to win the game.
Third baseman Daniel Lee added another run on his single. Catcher Brett Urie walked to load up the bases. What was once a one-sided blowout had now turned into a tension- filled, down-to-the-wire baseball match.
Outfielder Drew Nance would send Spottiswood home on a single, making the game 7-5 and even worse for the Monarchs, the bases were once again loaded.
The Monarchs starting pitcher would walk in another run, making the game a once unthinkable 7-6. The walk would cause Monarchs head coach Dave Mallas to pull the starter out of the game, a move that could have been a few batters too late. “I don’t think it would have made a difference had I taken out our starting pitcher earlier in the inning,” Mallas said. “Glendale’s offense was just on fire and no pitcher was going to stop them.”
Vaqueros relief pitcher Ryan Stanley did his part by not allowing an insurance run, and in doing so, left it to his offense to win the game. Stanley finished the game with no earned runs, four strikeouts and the win.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the Vaqueros down and out and desperately needing a run, Quintana hit a solo home run tying up the game 7-7.
Later in the inning, with two outs and runners on first and second, Urie hit a double, thus making the game 9-7 and completing a great comeback.
“I’m very proud of this team right now,” said Cicuto.