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Eagles earn important win over SL rivals
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Fueled by a strong outing from pitcher Trevor Starn and timely hitting late in the game, the Turlock Christian High baseball team came away with a 5-2 victory over the Denair High Coyotes at Pedretti Park on Thursday afternoon.
The Eagles avenged a close loss to Denair last month, as well as improving their Southern League record to 6-2 that puts them in contention for the title with Mariposa High and Waterford High with eight games remaining. Turlock Christian has also bested those two squads, who are regular visitors of the playoffs.
“My arm felt good out there,” said Starn, the senior left-hander who didn’t surrender his first hit until two outs in the fourth inning. “I got into a little trouble, giving up a walk and a seeing-eye single, but other than that, I felt good.”
Starn picked up the win by going five innings while only giving up two hits, one run and striking out nine Coyote hitters.
The game was a bit of a pitchers’ duel until the Eagles’ half of the fifth inning. Senior right-fielder Geoffrey Retemeyer began the frame with a leadoff double, followed by a single by Brent Abraham. Turlock Christian then manufactured runs with consecutive sacrifice flies from Stetson Tucker and Jesse Lopes that each garnered a run. Turlock Christian would later score in the inning thanks to an RBI single from Starn that plated Cody Alldrin, who also doubled.
“Our bats came alive in that fifth inning,” Eagles coach Jon Valenti said, after his team only recorded two hits in the first four innings. “We had some good at-bats that inning. We were able to capitalize on some of the mistakes that (Denair) made and we were able to manufacture some runs.”
The Eagles would later tack on an insurance run in the sixth, but the three runs in the bottom of the fifth would prove to be enough, as they improved to 9-5 overall.
Denair pitcher Brett Arnold threw a solid game in the loss. Going into the bottom of the fifth inning, the senior right-hander had only given up one run on two hits and struck out seven. The Coyotes (5-5, 3-4 SL) committed a couple of costly errors under Arnold's watch late in the game that concerned Denair coach Aaron Delworth.
“I know it shows in the book that we only had three errors, but when you look at the mental mistakes we made, it probably doubled that total,” he said. “I think both starting pitchers were equally matched today. It’s a tough loss, but (Arnold) understands that it’s his job to throw strikes and he has eight guys behind him to play defense and we just didn’t play defense today.”
Lopes, a Turlock Christian freshman, had a pair of hits, including a single to open up the Eagles’ first inning. He would then advance to third on an errant pickoff attempt and a wild pitch, eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly off of Alldrin to take an early 1-0 lead.
“This win means a lot,” said Starn. “We’re tied for first right now and another win just means that we’re keeping the pressure on Waterford.”