Carlmont's Kyle Barret slides across home plate in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game against Sequoia at 3. The teams played one more inning before it was called because of darkness.
As defending Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division champions, the Sequoia baseball team was slated to be promoted to the Bay Division for 2014.
But with the PAL absorbing the West Bay Athletic League this season, the Cherokees were asked — and they agreed — to stay in the Ocean.
“We have 12 seniors on the team. No underclassmen. They’ve been together for many years and were pretty excited to play in the Bay and they were disappointed not going up,” said Sequoia manager Corey Uhalde. “That’s why we tried to schedule as many Bay Division teams as could (for our non-league schedule).”
The first Bay Division team on the Cherokees’ schedule was Carlmont — the defending Bay Division champion — in the season opener for both teams Monday. If nothing else, Sequoia proved it can play with the best the Bay has to offer.
Unfortunately, that’s all the Cherokees could do. After trailing 3-2 after five innings, the Scots scratched out the tying run in the bottom of the seventh. Following a scoreless eighth inning between the two, the game was called because of darkness.
“I’m proud of the way both teams played,” Uhalde said. “It was good baseball.”
Carlmont manager Rich Vallero was almost relieved to get out of the game with a tie. The fact the Scots held the Cherokees to just three runs was a minor miracle considering Carlmont committed four errors.
“If you tell me we make four errors and not lose, I’ll take it,” Vallero said. “We didn’t play very good baseball and we didn’t lose.”
Matt Seubert got the starting call for Carlmont on the mound, with mixed results. He allowed all three Sequoia runs and pitched four innings, allowing five hits. He struggled with his command and location, which can be expected for the season opener.
“I’m sure there were (season-opening) butterflies from both teams,” Vallero said.
Sequoia starter Kyle Cambron, on the other hand, appeared to be in midseason form. Despite a high pitch count, he pitched into the seventh inning, surrendering two runs on five hits, striking out five and walking four.
“That guy (Cambron) did a great job,” Vallero said. “He got ahead. Had good stuff.”
Uhalde said he doesn’t base his pitching moves on a pitch count, instead relying on what he sees from his pitchers on the mound — and in the dugout. Uhalde said he kept checking on Cambron from the fourth inning on and Cambron kept wanting the ball
Cambron showed no signs of slowing down either. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, he poured a fastball right past the Scots’ leadoff hitter for the final out of the inning.
“We don’t have him on a pitch count. We expected him to go four, five innings. Throw 60 to 80 pitches. But from the fourth inning on, he kept saying, ‘One more (inning),’” Uhalde said. “We wanted to set the tone for the year. I want that effort from everyone.”
Despite a tough start to the game, Carlmont finished strong. The Scots trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh but, with one out, Kyle Barret legged out an infield hit and then stole second. Cambron then hit Aaron Albaum with a pitch, which signaled the end for the burly right hander. Cameron Greenough came in to relieve Cambron and, with runners on second and third, Seubert got a bit of redemption. With Sequoia playing the infield in, Seubert hit a chopper to the second baseman, who fired home trying to get Barret, who broke from third on contact. Barret easily beat the throw to tie the game at 3. Julian Billot was then intentionally walked to load the bases, but Greenough struck out the next two batters to send the game into extra innings.
With the light rapidly fading, Sequoia could do nothing against Joe Pratt, who pitched the eighth inning for Carlmont. The Scots had a chance to win it in the bottom of the frame. They got a leadoff hit, but he was quickly erased as he was caught stealing. Aaron Pleschner then walked and, following a strikeout, Barret singled, moving Pleschner to second. But Albaum struck out to end the inning and the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
While Carlmont finished strong, Sequoia started fast, scoring twice in the top of the first inning. Matt Lopez was hit by a pitch leading off and Chris Ortiz walked. Both runners moved up on a balk. Following a flyout, Liam Clifford came up and jumped on the first pitch he saw, driving it into the right-center field gap for a two-run double.
Carlmont got a run back in the bottom of the second, with Nick Thompson driving in Billot on an infield hit with the bases loaded.
Sequoia pushed its lead to 3-1 in the third when Zane Gelphman blasted a 3-2 pitch over the 325-foot sign in left-center field for a solo home run.
Carlmont closed the gap to 3-2 in the fifth when Barret doubled, went to third on a groundout and scored on a Sequoia error.
“You want to play in games like that,” Uhalde said. “It’s a building block going forward.”
Said Vallero: “I think [the Sequoia] guys did a great job. Corey’s done an unbelievable job with that program. … I’d like to play them again at the end of the year.”