Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Carlmont’s Nick Rich scores on a wild pitch during the Scots’ 8-2 win over Hillsdale Wednesday.
Carlmont baseball manager Rich Vallero didn’t feel his team was properly humbled following a 17-4 loss to Burlingame last Friday, so as Saturday’s practice began to unravel, Vallero and his coaching staff got into the Scots.
The reprimand must have paid off because the Scots came out of the gate firing on all cylinders Wednesday against Hillsdale. The Scots scored four runs in the first and starting pitcher Greg Hubbell had one of his best starts of the season as they went on to beat the Knights 8-2.
“The message was sent (at Saturday’s practice),” Vallero said. “We had goals at the beginning of the season and we still want to accomplish them.”
Hubbell, who has struggled with his command at times this season, got Carlmont (6-1 PAL Bay, 15-3 overall) started on the right foot, retiring Hillsdale (3-4, 11-9) in order in the top of the first. Hillsdale, on the other hand, could not have started any worse in the bottom half of the first inning. Knights starting pitcher Brandon Butcher hit Carlmont’s Kai Haake with his first pitch of the game and things went downhill from there as six of the first seven Scots batters reached base and they scored four runs to give Hubbell a comfortable lead.
While Carlmont went on to add more insurance as the game went along, the early advantage allowed Hubbell to pound the strike zone. The senior pitched into the seventh inning, allowing just two runs while scattering four hits.
“I think [Hubbell] set the tempo and when you can score a couple of runs early, it allowed him to settle in,” Vallero said. “[Hillsdale is] a very good offensive club. Any time you can take a good-hitting team and hold them to two runs, it’s a testament to the pitching.”
After Haake was hit by the pitch, Tanner Westmoreland walked and newcomer Aaron Albaum singled to center to drive in the first run of the inning. Nick Rich followed with an RBI single before Johnathan Corvello doubled home the third run of the inning. Brandon Moyle, running for the catcher Corvello, would eventually steal home on the back end of a double steal to give Carlmont a 4-0 lead after just one inning.
Hillsdale got on the board in the top of third when Armando Fajardo doubled home Adam Leary, who had singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a Kellen Tsuruoka sacrifice bunt. Carlmont, however, got the run back and then some as the Scots answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame when Matt Seubert’s two-out hit took a bad hop and deflected off the glove of the Hillsdale second baseman for a two-run single. The Scots added another run in the fourth on Albaum’s second RBI of the game and then rounded out the scoring in the fifth when Seubert singled, went around to third on Hillsdale’s fourth error of the game and scored on a wild pitch.
Meanwhile, Hubbell was efficiently handcuffing the Hillsdale bats. Aside from the two runs the Knights scored, they managed to get only two other runners into scoring position as the Carlmont defense was essentially flawless throughout the game.
“Their infield outplayed our infield,” said Hillsdale manager Neal Donahoe. “They made a lot of plays.
“[Hubbell] was good. He threw a lot of strikes. I was impressed.”
Also impressive was the play of Carlmont’s Albaum, a sophomore who was brought up to the varsity squad from frosh-soph when the varsity team lost its starting second baseman to grades a couple weeks ago. Albaum was inserted into that spot and has quickly earned the respect of teammates as he has eight hits and driven in 10 runs in just five games.
“He brings a lot of grit, some fire. He’s like a package of dynamite,” Vallero said. “We felt he could come in and handle himself offensively. We threw him right into the fire. … He’s as good as anyone we have.”