STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: Big Breeze in Ontario Blows Down 25 Rancho San Deigo – La Verne Batters in a Game for the Ages

August 1, 2010
Share this story:
AJ Woodall threw a 13-strikeout, one-hitter against Rancho San Diego.

AJ Woodall threw a 13-strikeout, one-hitter against Rancho San Diego.

It was a game for the ages, even if the kids playing the game were 11-year-olds.

Consider this. Only two players on Rancho San Diego put the ball in play the entire night against La Verne. Every out La Verne recorded against Rancho San Diego was via a strike out. As the home team, Rancho San Dieigo came to bat five different innings, and each inning three of their batters struck out for a total of 15 batters. The La Verne defense didn’t make one put-out the other way: by fielding a ground ball or catching a fly ball. The game was essentially a game of throw and catch between AJ Woodall and later Anthony Cascarano and their catcher Nate Schneider.

Credit starting pitcher Woodall for fanning 13 of those Rancho San Diego batters and Anthony Cascarano whiffing the other two after Woodall had reached his pitch limit. Woodall and Cascarano combined for a one-hitter.

Now, let’s look at Rancho San Diego, which was just as effective, if not more so, if that’s even possible. While La Verne put the ball in play, not one of the team’s players got a base hit. Rancho San Diego starter Brock Mosier pitched a no-hitter into the sixth inning until he reached his pitch-count maximum and was relieved by Justin Poe, who was just as stingy. Mosier piled up nine strikeouts and Poe added one for a team total of 10 strikeouts.

On both teams, a total of 25 batters struck out. Rancho San Diego pitched a no-hitter with 10 strike-outs and La Verne pitched a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts.

You pick the winner.

Final score, Rancho San Diego 2, La Verne 0.

Our tale goes back to the first inning while fans from both sides were still arriving, unfolding their chairs and settling in for the state title tilt between the North Sub-Division III winner, La Verne, and the South Sub-Division III winner, Rancho San Diego.

Once again, La Verne was the home team, and once again its fans expected its early shock-and-awe offense to light up the scoreboard. But Rancho’s Mosier wouldn’t cooperate. After getting lead-off hitter Nick Peifer to ground to short, he fanned Nate Schneider and then walked both Cascarano and Woodall before getting Graydon Smith to fly to right for the final out.

It was a little strange not to see La Verne, which averages close to 10 runs a game, not score early, but there would be plenty of opportunities, or so went the conventional thinking. But nothing was conventional or typical on this night.

In the bottom of the inning, Rancho San Diego’s Lucas Plein nursed a walk. Then Woodall, settling in, fanned Mosier for the first out. Next up, Lewis Dirkes tapped the ball to Nick Johnson at second for what looked like the start of an inning-ending double play or at least the force out of the lead runner at second, but shortstop Nick Peifer dropped the ball while transferring it to his throwing hand in the attempt to get Dirkes at first. The umpire ruled Plein safe at second.

La Verne manager Kevin Smith came out to protest the call (If the umpire believes the ball was caught and then dropped in the transfer, the umpire could have ruled the runner out at second base), but after a brief conference on the field with the three other umpires, the play stood as first called. There would be no reversal.

Still with one out and runners on first and second, Justin Poe hit a ball into right field. Thinking he had a shot at throwing the hustling Poe out at first, La Verne right fielder Smith came charging hard and threw to first, but the throw was just wide. The ball skipped along the first base dugout-side fence, allowing Plein to score and Dirkes to advance to third. Seconds later, with Woodall facing No. 5 hitter Jacob Paape, Dirkes raced home on a passed ball to make the score, 2-0. Woodall fanned the next two batters to limit the damage from the two errors.

And there the score stood the remainder of the game, as both pitchers Mosier and Woodall got stronger and craftier and more confident as the game wore on. For instance, after issuing a walk to Will Guerra in the second with one out, Mosier mowed down 12 consecutive batters before a walk to Schneider in the fifth broke the string.

Meanwhile, Woodall struck out seven consecutive batters at one point. After surrendering back-to-back walks in the second, Woodall struck out the side. In the third he struck out all three batters he faced. In the fourth, he issued a walk and fanned all three batters. In the fifth he fanned the first batter before Cascarano took over and struck out the only two batters he faced. After the second inning, no Rancho San Diego batter advanced past first base.

On the other side of the ledger, Rancho San Diego was just as dominant. After the first, when La Verne put two runners aboard, La Verne would not see another of its runners reach second until the top of the sixth after Rancho San Diego intentionally walked Woodall.

With runners on Schneider on second and Woodall on first, La Verne had the makings of a two-out rally going, but on this night pitching ruled. It would take more than one spark to light a fire against the slick-fielding Rancho San Diego nine.  Justin Poe delivered his first pitch and before you could say “Rancho San Diego,” the first-pitch swinging Smith solidly connected but slapped the ball into the waiting glove of the Rancho third baseman who neatly tucked it away in his glove and stepped on third for the game’s final out.

One hit for both teams, but that one hit made all the difference.

La Verne manager Kevin Smith tipped his cap to Rancho San Diego, then immediately started looking forward to Sunday’s contest at Homer F. Briggs Memorial Park in Ontario at 5 p.m.

“We can come back; we can do this,” he said. “We typically score to eight to 10 runs, and we can do it again.”

To reach the sub-divisionals, La Verne did just that. After dropping its first game against Upland in the sectional playoffs, La Verne came back and took the last two.

La Verne will need both history and a little more offense on its side to accomplish the feat. Another great pitching performance would be nice, too.


Leave a Reply