The Lone Pine Golden Eagles nine have turned the corner, logging back-to-back wins over Silver Valley (8-1) last week and over the Mammoth Huskies (16-6) Tuesday.
The corner turned was the nasty error corner. The Eagles have solid pitching and strong offense, but until the game with the Silver Valley Trojans, have been plagued by defensive errors.
“We had no errors against Silver Valley,” said coach Mike Button.
The win avenges the Eagles’ season-opening loss, 10-13, to the Trojans last month, a defeat that was rife with errors.
On paper, Tuesday's match-up between the Eagles and the Huskies looked like a good one that could go down to the wire. It almost did.
The two teams traded punches in the early innings. Freshman Ryan Cappello started on the mound for Lone Pine. With 1 out and two runners on base, a Knights scored 2 runs on a wild pitch. Cappello minimized the damage, striking out the next two batters.
Lone Pine’s Garrett Sullivan singled into center field, then stole his way home on wild pitches to put the Eagles on the scoreboard, 1-2.
Cappello stepped up with a huge triple into right field; Brad Greene’s single sent him home to tie the game 2-2.
The bases were loaded when Milton Mendoza smacked a 2-RBI double and Lone Pine led 4-2.
The Knights came back in the top of the second. Cappello struck out the first batter, walked the next two and a Husky hit loaded the bases. Cappello stayed cool, throwing 3 straight strikes for the second out.
A Mammoth double and single scored 4 runs and the Huskies took a 4-6 lead.
Cappello helped his own cause in the bottom of the second with a single to center field and a run off a wild Husky pitch to narrow the score 5-6.
Senior Mike Cappello relieved Ryan in the third, holding Mammoth runless.
The Eagles’ bats stayed hot in the third. Shane Riesen tied the game, 6-6. Lone Pine took a 7-6 lead when Sullivan singled in Mike Cappello.
With Sullivan and Ryan Cappello on base, Greene sent the ball deep for a 2 RBI single to give the Eagles some breathing room at 9-6.
With a strikeout and an example of that error-free defense, the Huskies went three-up/three-down, bringing Eagles back to the plate.
With cold temperatures and a brisk wind, Lone Pine spectators were hoping for a 7-run inning to give the Eagles a shot at a mercy-rule shortened game. They got their wish.
With 1 out, Mendoza and Riesen singled, a walk loaded the bases, setting up a game of musical chairs.
Mike Cappello, Sullivan, Ryan Cappello all singled in runs for a 12-6 lead. Greene and Preston Huerta both hit 2-RBI singles to give the Eagles a 10-point edge at 16-6.
With frozen fingers crossed, Eagles fans watched Mike Cappello record 2 strikeouts. Sullivan pulled down a pop fly for the final out.
The Eagles’ rematch against the Desert Mountain League-leading Desert Christian was canceled yesterday in Lancaster, but the team does travel to Mojave tomorrow.
Lone Pine 8,
Silver Valley 1
Mike Cappello: 1 inning, 2 Ks
Ryan Cappello: 5 innings, 5 Ks
Brad Greene: 1 inning, 1 K
Mike Cappello: 3/3 with a double
Garrett Sullivan: 3/3
Bryce Benites: a double
Milton Mendoza: a double