With back-to-back mercy-rule wins to open the Pacific Southwest Regional tournament, the Stanislaus Cardinals Babe Ruth 18-year-old team has ensured its ticket to the semifinal game where they will square off against San Gabriel from Southern California today.
It took an 11-0 mercy rule win over Hunter Cypress from Utah in the first round, followed by a 10-0 victory over Hanford, but the Cardinals did it in convincing fashion nabbing both wins by the fifth inning at Modesto Christian on Thursday and Friday.
The team played two almost perfect games, behind strong performances from both starting pitchers and an offense that didn't slow down.
“Our pitching has been great and our hitting, we have made some great adjustments really early in,” said Cardinals head coach Bobby Swedberg.
Turlock’s Nick Gonzales started Thursday’s game and managed to pitch a no-hitter after five innings, allowing only one walk and striking out seven en route to the mercy-rule win after the fifth.
One great pitching performance was followed by another on Friday night when Gavin Gaffaney gave all he could on the mound, tossing up five shutout innings, allowing only two hits for the game.
“Gavin maybe gave up two runs, induced a lot of ground balls and had three double plays to end the inning and stop rallies,” said Swedberg.
The big spark of the game came from Turlock’s Tyler Murphy in the bottom of the second in only the second pitch of the at-bat where he drove the ball opposite field over the center-field wall, taking the early 1-0 lead and starting up the offense.
“I have just been working hard, haven’t taken much time off and I have hit a lot lately,” Murphy said. “I hit like three or four rounds before the game and focus on the big picture and put everything I have learned in practice.”
By the end of the inning a second run had been added and the Cardinals were confident that they were on their way to a win.
Six runs were notched in the fourth by the Cardinals high-powered offense that ran the bases well and made crucial and timely hits when needed.
“Everything is clicking right now, everyone is working hard on their swings and really it’s everyone hitting the ball well and making great approaches,” said Murphy.
Pitman graduate Brennan Hauser smacked a two-run double up the second base line to take the 8-0 lead heading into the start of the fifth.
Cameron Godfrey then ended the contest in the fifth with one out after drilling a perfect RBI single up the middle to send his team within one game of the regional championship.
“I think right now the way we play I think we are set, last year we were one game away and lost in walk-off at regionals,” Murphy said. “Lots of us are returners and we don’t want that, that’s kind of our motivation.”
The Cardinals will now play against San Gabriel at 5 p.m. today at Modesto Christian High.
If the Cardinals win then they will move on to the title game on Monday, but a loss will force them to play on Sunday, with both games starting at 5 p.m.