HAYWARD — Cañada pitcher David Moody pounded his glove in frustration as he walked off the mound following an eighth-inning walk to Chabot’s Tyler Davis.
The display of emotion, in which a borderline 3-2 pitch went Chabot’s way, was a culmination of a frustrating day for the Colts, who fell to the No. 1-seed Gladiators 2-0 Friday in the opening game of the best-of-three regional playoffs at Chabot.
With Chabot rallying for two unearned runs in the second on three Colts errors in the inning, and with Cañada manager Tony Lucca being ejected for arguing an out call at second base in the fifth, the temperament of the usually reserved Moody was noticeably frayed by the eighth.
“I think that moment, it was a year’s worth of frustration,” Cañada pitching coach Steve Hoff said. “I think it was the magnitude of the game. … and I think any time you go out there and you pitch in a big game, every pitch is so important. So, when you don’t get the one you think you should get, I can see him getting a little emotional about it.”
No doubt, Moody has pitched with some hard luck this season. The sophomore’s first two losses of the year came to Allan Hancock on Feb. 14 in surrendering one run on two hits through seven innings, and to Cabrillo in the Coast Conference opener Feb. 25 in which he yielded one earned run through 8 1/3 innings.
“David Moody did everything he could today to help us win a baseball game,” Cañada interim manager Tony Gomes said. “He was lights out. He was incredible. He was changing speeds. At the end of the game I told him, ‘Keep your head up because you did everything your team asked of you to help us win this baseball game.’”
Moody was indeed stellar Friday in tabbing the complete-game loss, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning and finishing the day yielding just two unearned runs on three hits. But Chabot right-hander James Carter was better, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning while persevering for his first shutout of the year.
Carter, the Coast Golden Gate Conference Pitcher of the Year, threw 130 pitches en route to improving to 9-3. The 6-3 hurler certainly looks like he’s built to last. More importantly, he knows how to pitch, according to Chabot manger Stever Friend.
“He’s tougher mentally than he is physically,” Friend said. “He did a good job keeping us in the ballgame. He needed to because David Moody pitched a heck of a ballgame himself.”
All the runs scored in the game crossed the plate in the second by way of three errors by Cañada shortstop Kyle Zirbes. The third-year sophomore kicked three routine groundballs, two of which were potential double-play grounders, to open the door for Chabot.
“We’ve got to play defense behind him and we didn’t do it,” Gomes said.
Chabot (28-7) got its leadoff hitter on base in the second when Ivan Perez reached on Zirbes’ first error. Perez stole second and Travis Hull walked to put runners at first and second. Davis followed by hitting a potential double-play grounder to short that Zirbes seemed to rush, causing him to boot it to load the bases. Then No. 9 hitter Blake Guardino hit another would-be double-play ball which kicked off Zirbes’ glove and into left field to allow Perez and Hull to score.
Cañada finally got out of the inning when Robert Smith hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
“Usually [Zirbes] is a solid player for us,” Gomes said. “We’re going to stick with him. He’s our guy. He’s going to make those plays 90 percent of the time. So, it’s just unfortunate that it happened today.”
The Colts’ best offensive chance came in the sixth by loading the bases with one out. Matt Eastman got the rally started with a sharp grounder that could have been called an error, but instead went for the first Colts hit of the day. Alex Jenkins followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Eastman to second. Zirbes walked and Maurice Fuller scorched a legit single to left to load the bases.
But Carter buckled down to retire the Colts’ No. 3 and 4 hitters in order by inducing a pop-up off the bat of Dylan Cook and striking out Justin Gubser to strand the bases loaded.
Lucca was ejected in the fifth inning following an out call at second base. Carter retired the first 12 batters he faced, but hit Gubser with a hanging curveball to start the fifth. Chris Miguel proceeded to hit a grounder to shortstop where Chabot’s Dawkins came up with it and threw to second, where the ball was dropped, but Gubser was called out.
Lucca argued the call while Gubser remained on the second-base bag in protest. According to Lucca, the umpire said his view of the play was obstructed by the runner and he did not see the ball was dropped. After the umpires conferred, the out call was upheld and Lucca and Gubser returned to the dugout seemingly peaceably. However, as play resumed with Jason Marley at the plate, the home plate umpire called timeout while Carter was delivering a pitch and ejected Lucca from the game.
“That was a little odd,” Friend said. “I think the thing is we’ve got to leave the field promptly and if we don’t we get banged.”
The best-of-three regional playoff series concludes Saturday with Game 2 tabbed for and 11 a.m. start. If necessary, Game 3 will be played approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of Game 2. Lucca is required to serve a mandatory one-game suspension for being ejected. As of press time Friday, a decision was not made as to whether Lucca would be suspended for additional games due to excessive arguing.
Still, the No. 16-seed Colts (25-13) remained upbeat about making a run at next week’s Super Regional playoffs.
“We like our chances,” Gomes said. “We didn’t get beat today. We kind of beat ourselves. We squandered some opportunities offensively where we had a chance to get ahead in this game. We just have to put together a little bit better at-bats. … We don’t feel like we’re out of this. We feel like we’re right here.”