Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Sequoia’s Liam Clifford strokes a bases-loaded, two-run single during the Cherokees’ 6-1 win over M-A. Clifford finished with three RBIs.
Even though the first three innings were Twilight Zone weird, Sequoia right-hander Kyle Cambron persevered to lead the Cherokees past visiting Menlo-Atherton, 6-1.
But it took all the concentration Cambron could muster to buckle down after the hijinks of the first three frames. The highlight reel of weirdness came in the top of the second when it seemed Cambron had surrendered a home run to Menlo-Atherton junior first baseman Matthew McGarry.
With one on and one out in the second, McGarry put an opposite-field charge into a 1-1 offering from Cambron that sent Sequoia center fielder Matt Lopez back to, and through, the temporary mesh outfield fence. As Lopez attempted to hurdle it in chasing down the fly ball, the field umpire called it a home run. However, after the umpires huddled up, the call was overturned and ruled a ground-rule double. M-A (5-2) would go on to score just one run in the inning — and the game.
Previous to the home run that wasn’t, Sequoia (6-0-1) rallied in the first inning. But after Jarrett Crowell drew a leadoff walk, Lopez hit a one-hopper to third base which M-A threw around the horn for an apparent double play. However, Lopez was called safe at first. So, instead of two outs and no one on, the Cherokees turned the questionable call into a two-run rally and would lead the rest of the way.
Menlo-Atherton manager Mike Amoroso was adamant that the umpires were wrong on both calls.
“The home run was a home run. They blew that one,” Amoroso said. “And they blew the double play. There’s nothing really to say about it. They blew them both and that’s just part of the game. The umpires can’t dictate the game. We need to overcome this. I tip my cap to Sequoia. They hit their way into it and they scored more runs.”
That they did. The Cherokees scored in each of the first three innings, and made plenty of loud contact en route to banging out 10 hits.
Sequoia got on the board in the first. After Lopez reached, Zane Gelphman blasted and RBI double to left. Senior left field Liam Clifford followed by shooting an RBI single to left, giving Sequoia a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the second, the Bears scored their only run. After the McGarry ground rule double to put runners at second and third, Max Gardiner scored from third on an RBI groundout of the bat of Nikolai Tarran, cutting Sequoia’s lead to 2-1.
In the bottom of the second though, Sequoia sent eight batters to the plate. Carson Parodi got the rally started with a high bounding single to left and advanced to second on an outfield error. After a walk to Matt Marino, Parodi got picked off of second, but in the ensuing rundown, Marino moved up to second. With one out, Crowell singled to move Marino to third. Lopez followed with an RBI single to plate Marino. With two outs, Gelphman was hit bay a pitch to load the bases — setting the stage for a long, strange at bat by Clifford.
After the first pitch of the at bat, the home plate umpire sent M-A catcher Daniel Kollar-Gasiewski out to the mound to tell his pitcher Colin Martell that he was in jeopardy of balking as he wasn’t facing the plate when coming set. After the catcher did so, the umpires decidedly confabbed at the mound and it was decided the hole dug out of the mound was not aligned with the plate, and play was allowed to continue with Martell throwing from a sideways angle. Martell immediately got strike two against Clifford, but the senior would work his way out of the deficit — running the count full — but not before fouling a ball painfully off his foot. Finally on the payoff pitch, Clifford shot a single to right to score Crowell and Lopez, giving the Cherokees a 5-1 lead.
In the sixth, Sequoia added one more. Cameron Greenough led off with an infield single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Parodi, then moved to third on an infield single by Marino. Then on a wheel steel, an errant throw by M-A’s catcher allowed Greenough to score, capping the day’s scoring at 6-1.
One of the most intriguing arms currently in the Peninsula Athletic League, Cambron bulled through six innings, allowing one run on seven hits to earn the win. His record improves to 3-0.
“He’s been great,” Uhalde said. “He and the rest of the team, being very senior heavy, they’ve been through a lot. … They really stay level-headed and he does it as well as anybody. So, he’s been the guy we’ve gone to over and over throughout his career. We expect him to be there this year. And when he gets the ball he doesn’t want to come out of games. He doesn’t make a lot of excuses. He just goes and get guys out.”
With PAL Ocean Division play beginning next week for Sequoia, Cambron looks to be aligned to start the March 18 league opener against Aragon.
“These guys are senior heavy team and they really felt like they could have played in the Bay Division this year,” Uhalde said. “So, we stacked the schedule with as many Bay teams as we could and Kyle as well as the rest of the guys came out and played them as well as they could.”