Two days after Lodi High’s baseball team brought St. Mary’s down to Earth on the Rams’ home turf, St. Mary’s returned the favor with Wednesday’s 8-4 victory over the Flames at Zupo Field.
The Flames left runners stranded left and right, loaded the bases twice and came up empty, and struck out for the third out with runners in scoring position in four of the seven innings of the Tri-City Athletic League game.
“On Friday, we need to get our two-strike approach better,” said Lodi shortstop Logan Stout. “Just put the ball in play, see what happens. ...We’re pretty solid right now. We’re good actually, just tonight was pretty bad.”
St. Mary’s outhit Lodi 7-5, but both teams used numerous errors, hit batsmen and walks to get runners on base. Once on base, the Rams racked up six stolen bases to put pressure on the Lodi defense.
“I think we learned a little bit from our lessons on Monday,” St. Mary’s coach Randy Ortega said about Monday’s 9-6 Lodi victory in Stockton. “We got a lead, and we let up a little bit, and it burned us in the end. Today it felt like we kept scrapping and stayed in it. Our intent was better throughout the game, so I think it was good that we learned from our loss.”
The scoring started in the top of the first inning, when Cal Selna and Phillip Hernandez were hit by pitches to reach base for St. Mary’s. Val Rodrigues drove them in with a double, and Rodrigues scored soon after on an error.
Lodi responded in the bottom of the frame, with Logan Morita walking and scoring on a double-steal.
The Rams struck again in the third, with five singles putting another three runs on the board. Angelo Genetti tallied drove in two of those with a bases-loaded single to center field.
“You know, it’s only one game. We always battle with St. Mary’s, and it’s a tough league, and every game is going to be a battle,” Lodi coach Hobie Schultz said. “They’re not going to lay down for you, you have to go out and earn it, and we didn’t do that today.”
Lodi’s second run came in the fourth inning, when Trevor Jackson singled to drive in Morita, who finished 0-for-2, but reached base with two walks and a pitch to his helmet. The Flames chipped away more in the sixth, with two walks, an error and another Jackson single making it a 6-4 game. Morita made another attempt to score, but the Rams turned a double play with first baseman Nico Gomez touching his base for a force out and then firing home to catch Morita trying to sneak by.
St. Mary’s added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning on three walks, an error and a squeeze bunt, and Lodi did not respond in the final frame, stranding runners on first and second on a strikeout.
Rodrigues and Selna both went 2-for-3 for the Rams, with two RBIs for Rodrigues, two stolen bases for Selna and two runs each. Rodrigues’ two-run double in the first inning was the only extra-base hit of the game.
For Lodi, Jackson was 2-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the offense, and also pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief after taking over for starter Nick Hybarger in the fourth inning.
The Flames and Rams will play the rubber match of their three-game series on Friday in Stockton.
“I think we left 14 guys on the bases today, so we definitely need to get better in that category on Friday,” Schultz said. “I mean, (the guys) play from the first pitch to the last pitch every game. Everybody’s going to have an off day, and you know, that was one of them, and hopefully they don’t happen too often anymore. They’ll be ready to go on Friday.”
Wednesday’s loss was the first in league for Lodi (4-1 in the TCAL, 11-3). The Flames are tied with the Rams (4-1, 7-5) near the top of the league.
“Lodi’s a good ball club, and they’re going to come out ready to win,” Ortega said. “I know they’ve got good arms left, and we’ve got our hands full. Friday will be fun. That’s the way it should be, right?”