In a rematch of last season’s BCL West championship, Stuart Hall got a stern test from league rival University, but the Knights rallied from an early two-run deficit to outlast the Red Devils 5-2 in eight innings at Moscone Playground on Thursday.
After sophomore ace Zach Avila struck out the side in the seventh inning, Stuart Hall — despite stranding 15 runners on base — was finally able to break through in the top half of the eighth inning.
Stuart Hall (10-4-1, 5-0) scored three runs in that eighth inning off University reliever Josiah Corbus to remain undefeated in the BCL West and push its winning streak to seven games.
“We left a lot of runners on base, but I give my guys a ton of credit,” Stuart Hall coach Joey Railey said. “They stuck with it, kept fighting, and it wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it.”
Even though he got a no-decision, Avila pitched effectively, tossing seven innings of two-run ball. Avila stuck out eight batters while giving up only five hits and a walk before giving way to Willie Reader, who got the win while working out of a jam.
“I say this all the time about Zach, as a sophomore, he’s not a sophomore when it comes to baseball IQ,” Railey said. “He stays so calm on the mound and he had good stuff today. If we [didn’t] leave so many runners on base, he would’ve got the win. He kept us in it today.”
University (5-3, 2-2) got five innings out of starting pitcher Stephen Nemy, who worked effectively out of trouble most of the game. He was spotted a two-run lead when Brian Palmigiano crushed a double to right-center field, scoring Josiah Corbus. Palmigiano later came around and scored on a single to center-field by freshman Jerod Battat.
But that was all the scoring University would get as the Red Devils fell short in their upset bid.
“We came out and competed, and it was a good baseball game,” first-year University coach Dave Heighimgton said. “We knew we had to catch the ball, and we didn’t do that at times today. [Stuart Hall] was the better team today.”