Cupertino’s David Kau delivers a hit in a 2-0 non-league win over Mt. Pleasant played last Saturday.
Being a relief pitcher in baseball is a little like being a tightrope walker. The job is at once exciting and dangerous, and often leaves little room for error.
That was certainly the case for Fremont reliever Mark Mariscal last Saturday when he closed out a 3-2, non-league win over the Harbor Pirates by escaping a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the last inning.
After six strong innings by Firebird starter Stephan Ullmann, Mariscal took over in the last of the seventh and quickly retired the first two batters he faced, one on a strikeout.
The Fremont junior then walked the next batter and gave up back-to-back singles, loading the bases to put the tying runner on third and the potential winning run on second before getting the final out on a lazy fly ball to right.
It was the first varsity save of Mariscal’s career. In seven relief appearances this year, he has worked 8 2/3 innings, allowing 11 hits and five walks but only one earned run for a dazzling earned run average of 0.81.
Ullmann picked up his second win of the year by limiting Harbor to just three hits and two unearned runs in six innings, his longest stint of the season. He lowered his ERA to 2.54.
The Firebirds scored all three of their runs in the top of the first inning.
After Adam Carlson was hit by a pitch and stole second, he was singled home by Nick Tognoli.
Tognoli then raced home on a double deep down the left field line by Tommy Guilfoyle, who was eventually balked in from third base with Fremont’s third run of the inning.
Fremont managed five more hits over the next six innings—a triple by Guilfoyle and singles by Carlson, Tognoli, Adam Cervantes and Luis Rodriguez—but was unable to produce another run.
Thanks to the pitching of Ullmann and Mariscal, three runs turned out to be enough.
“Ullmann pitched well, mixing in his knuckleball with the fastball,” said Fremont head coach Raoul Traeg.
Fremont, which raised its overall record to 6-13 with the win, returned to Santa Clara Valley Athletic League play earlier this week with a scheduled home-and-away series against the Lynbrook Vikings, and next plays host to the Gunn Titans April 27 in a 4 p.m. contest.
The Firebirds entered this week tied with Monta Vista for last place in the SCVAL’s El Camino Division with identical 3-5 records, but were only one game behind both Lynbrook (4-4) and Gunn (4-4), and just two off the pace of co-leaders Santa Clara (5-3) and Cupertino (5-3).
Prior to edging Harbor, the Firebirds dropped a 3-0 non-league decision to the Wilcox Chargers, despite a strong mound performance from Cervantes, who yielded just three hits and a walk while striking out four.
He was betrayed by both the Fremont defense, which allowed three unearned runs, and offense, which managed only one hit—a second-inning single by Carlos Gonzalez.
“Cervantes pretty much dominated with his fastball,” Traeg noted. “He was behind in several counts but battled back to get outs.”
In other spring break non-league activity, the Lynbrook Vikings dropped a pair of games, losing a 13-12 heartbreaker to Carlmont and an 11-3 spanking at the hand of Terra Nova.
Against Carlmont, the Vikes rallied from an early 9-3 deficit to take a 12-9 lead into the bottom of the last inning, only to have the Scots stage a stunning four-run rally against the Lynbrook bullpen to pull out the win.
Trailing by six runs after four innings, Lynbrook scored four times in the fifth, four times in the sixth and once in the seventh to go ahead by three runs, but could not get the three outs they needed in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory.
Sean Prozell slammed his second home run of the season and drove in a single game career-best five runs to highlight a 14-hit attack in the loss.
Aaron Hoch, Vinny Bologna, Mitchell Plane and Zane Van Artedel each rapped two hits, and Jordan Brandenburg, Jake Stulbarg, Will Klieves, Matt Reiley and Luke Bugbee each stroked one.
Koch had a pair of runs-batted-in, while Grant Norman, Brandenburg, Klieves, Bologna and Bugbee had one RBI apiece.
The Vikes, who were to have played North Monterey County in a non-league contest and Fremont in a two-game series earlier this week, resume El Camino Division play on April 27 with a 4 p.m. battle against Monta Vista at home.
Lynbrook entered this week with a 7-10 overall record.
A fierce comeback attempt by the Monta Vista Matadors fell one run short of success last week when they were nudged 6-5 by the Milpitas Trojans in a non-league outing.
The Mats found themselves trailing 6-0 after just one inning of play, but made a game of it, thanks in large part to the outstanding relief pitching of Chris Anderson.
Anderson blanked Milpitas over the final four innings, allowing just three hits and striking out three.
Jason Koontz, a sophomore, led Monta Vista’s spirited comeback bid by going 3-for-3 to extend his current hit streak to three games.
Brendan Hughes chipped in with a triple, two singles, two runs scored and an RBI, raising his season batting average to .345.
Anthony Moll and Nathan Hui both singled in runs, and Sathya Kumaraguru delivered a sacrifice fly, helping to pull Monta Vista to within a run of Milpitas by the end of the fifth inning.
The loss was Monta Vista’s third in a row, dropping its record to 7-11 for the year.
The Matadors, who were slated to play a two-game set with Gunn earlier this week, host Del Mar Saturday in a non-league clash scheduled to start at noon.
The Cupertino Pioneers split a pair of non-league outings last week, falling to Milpitas 4-3—their first loss outside of El Camino Division play—before blanking Mt. Pleasant 2-0.
Cupertino improved to 13-4 overall with the win over the Cardinals, and is 8-1 against non-league opponents for the year.
The Pioneers conclude a two-game series with its El Camino co-leader, Santa Clara, Saturday at Washington Park in Santa Clara with a 7 p.m. battle.
Homestead, which was idle last week and was to have played a two-game series with Los Altos earlier this week, welcomes the Saratoga Falcons April 26 for a 4 p.m. Senior Day contest.
The Mustangs came into this week with a 7-14 overall record and a 3-7 mark in the SCVAL’s De Anza Division, where they were in seventh place, just a game ahead of the last-place Falcons.
The King’s Academy Knights (4-9-1 overall, 1-4 in the West Bay Athletic League) plays host to Half Moon Bay April 27 in a 4 p.m. tilt.