The season for the varsity Wildcats baseball team is looking bright as they start off with effortless domination of 1-0 over Freedom High at home on Feb. 26.
Even though only one home run was scored in the entirety of the game, the innings were action-packed and intense. The Freedom and Dougherty teams appeared equally matched, with no score all the way until the Wildcats’ third inning.
Yet by the second inning, things were already heating up. Tommy Jew hit the ball slightly into the right outfield with a strong crack from the bat, eliciting an uproar of cheers from the home bleachers and allowing Reno Zemrak to slide swiftly into third base, resulting in two men on base from two hits.
The second inning ended with no score, but during the third inning Jew shone once more by hitting the only home run in the game, bringing runner Michael Pangelinan home. The score remained 1-0 for the rest of the game, but tensions were high at the visitor bleachers and in the Freedom team as everyone watched to see if they could make the score even with the Wildcats.
But it did not appear hopeful for the Freedom team. With quick, skillful technique and teamwork, in the fourth inning when the Wildcats played defense, a swift pass from third baseman Evan Seidell to first baseman Zemrak tapped a Freedom runner out for Freedom’s three outs, resulting in a switch to the fourth inning.
Freedom bounced back once on the defensive and blocked the Wildcats’ hopeful attempts to score another run. In one particularly intense rush, with two other runners already on the bases, Zemrak was up to bat and hit on his second strike. He dove for first base but did not make it.
Zemrak later reflected on his performance in the game. “I think I did decent, but there were a few missteps,” he said.
The bases were almost loaded, with runners on second and third base straining to get to home when Pangelinan was up. He managed to hit the ball but did not make it to the base in time.
With two outs and two men on bases, the pressure was on batter Trent Ruckman. He hit and raced for first base. Like Zemrak and Pangelinan before him, he almost made it until the ball reached the base before him in a force out. Skyler Gulley on third base reached home, but mere seconds after Ruckman was called out. The frustration of Dougherty’s team carried into the home bleachers with an uproar from the crowd, and Freedom remained behind by only one point.
During the fifth inning, a new pitcher for Dougherty, Ryan Douglas, showed up on the mound. In his short practice session before the start of the inning, he appeared a bit shaky when aiming at the catcher, but ultimately proved his value to the team in the game. Freedom’s batters could not respond to Douglas’ efficient and tricky pitches, and their half of the inning moved by quickly. The third out made by Freedom was the result of a strike out.
By the seventh inning, Dougherty and Freedom were level with each other in terms of skill and concentration as the score refused to budge and major, intense plays did not occur. The game ended rather uneventfully with Zemrak striking out as the last batter.
With the success of Dougherty’s win over Freedom, players have a positive outlook on the overall season.
“I think the season will go well as long as we stick to the basics of the game and don’t make it difficult on ourselves,” said Zemrak.
The Wildcats varsity baseball team hopes to have an equal, if not higher, rate of success in important league games against school rivals such as Acalanes, Miramonte, and Las Lomas on Apr. 14 and Apr. 16 respectively.