The Pitman High Pride were coming off a clutch one-run victory over Gregori last week and looked to continue their playoff streak as they had their eyes set on the quarterfinal match on Monday against a familiar foe from the Modesto Metro Conference—Beyer High.
The Pride previously shutout the Patriots in their encounter back in March, but the Pats and head coach Dominic Duran were hoping to finally trounce the Pride and turn the tables at the University of Pacific's Klein Field.
Rather, Pitman's Zach Wichman dominated the day as he tossed a complete game and allowed only two earned runs on six hits, walked two and struck out eight with only 95 pitches thrown and the Pride rallied on to win, 7-2.
“I know a whole bunch of guys over there [Beyer] and I just wanted to pitch as well as I possibly could and pound my spots and it started clicking early and I kinda rode it from there,” Wichman said.
“He [Wichman] is usually a guy that continues to get better as the innings go on and we had other guys get ready but with the confidence we didn't want to deny him,” Pitman head coach John Acha said.
It wasn't all pretty as the Pride went through a rough patch but so did the Patriots, who committed three errors through four innings for the first time this year.
Pitman capitalized early as Colton Evans reached base safely after Beyer committed their first error with the leadoff hitter in Evans.
With one out, Wichman knocked in Evans for the first run of the game after driving a second pitch line drive to left field for an RBI single.
Beyer starter Micah Hall (11-0) was undefeated heading into the game and pitched a solid game, despite picking up the loss as he got out of a jam with bases loaded in the first inning with a double play to end the inning after allowing the first run to cross the board.
Beyer's only rally of the game occurred in the top of the third inning when sophomore Jacob Echels led off with a walk on a seven pitch at-bat from Wichman.
Jack Large of Beyer knocked in Echels to tie the ballgame at 1-1 with two outs, which was followed with a Ryan Frakes RBI single to take the 2-1 lead.
This would be the only lead for the Patriots as the Pride grinded out the runs and kept the Pats from scoring again behind the great start from Wichman.
“This team helped me keep my composure because they are so light and so upbeat that it is hard to get down when there is a team that is having a good time in the dugout and smiling,” said Wichman.
Matt Carrigg was once again clutch for his team after tying the game in the bottom half of the third with an RBI triple on the third pitch and as the Pride took a 3-2 lead by the end of the inning, they didn't look back.
Evans slammed a two-run double to take a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth and a two-run sixth inning gave Wichman some security runs heading into the final inning with a five-run lead at 7-2.
Wichman went through a rocky seventh inning as he loaded up the bases but essentially forced Jordan Walls to flyout to deep left center.
“Even in the last inning we kicked the ball a little bit with some could have or should have situations but it was alright, he knew and went after the guys,” said Acha. “It was different than the last game because our guys squared up well and other guys hit the ball with great contact.”
In only his third season, coach Acha has led the Pride into the postseason for the second time and for the first time in the semifinal round.
“This year we are deeper pitching-wise and we have a junior version of Matt Carrigg and there is a difference there; but just a great group overall,” said Acha.
It is also the first time that Acha has led the team to 20-plus wins in a season.
The next game for Pitman will be against a familiar team that eliminated crosstown rivals Turlock in St. Mary's of Stockton which are 19-11, coming off a 6-1 over Tracy.
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Klein Field at the University of Pacific.
“I think we can match with everyone on any given day; we're just looking forward to squaring off with St. Mary's,” Acha said.