Given the suspension of athletics in the county, the Daily Journal decided to dive into our 20-year archives to bring readers some of our favorite stories over the years.
MARCH 17, 2017 — The Aragon baseball team got off to a hot start this season, having won four straight heading into its Thursday Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division opener.
But Aragon manager Lenny Souza knows better than anyone that the Dons have had their struggles against King’s Academy, Thursday’s opponent.
Not even the Knights could slow the Dons’ roll. Aragon scored in every inning except the sixth as it jumped to an early lead and kept adding on in an 11-1 victory.
“Nothing better than being 1-0. We’ve beaten a lot of good teams to get this point,” Souza said.
Aragon (1-0 PAL Ocean, 6-1 overall) wasted little time in putting the pressure on King’s Academy (0-1, 0-7), scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. That turned out to be more than enough offense for Aragon starter Jack Tagliafico. Although not his best outing, it was plenty good on this day as he pitched a complete game, five-hitter. The only run the Knights scored was an unearned one in the top of the fifth.
“He did really well. … It’s nice when your starter goes seven,” Souza said. “We played well defensively behind him.”
The Dons’ defense turned a couple of double plays while the outfield chased down a few well-hit balls. Tagliafico did run into some trouble in the third inning when the Knights got a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases. But Tagliafico got a long fly ball out to left field to escape the inning unscathed.
The one ball the Aragon outfield couldn’t get to was fifth-inning double that drove in the Knights’ run, cutting their deficit to 9-1.
“When you’ve been through three, four innings and can be up six, seven runs, it takes the pressure off,” Souza said.
The Dons scored early and didn’t let up. Elliot Biagini led off the first with a single and Steph Collard walked to bring up Cam Grant, who is one of the hottest bats in the Dons’ lineup. On an 0-1 pitch, Grant rifled a line drive to deep center that drove in both baserunners as Grant pulled into third with a triple. He would score on a Samir Hussain sacrifice fly to give Aragon a quick 3-0 lead.
Hussain came into the game batting .500 on the season.
But the Dons are much more than just two hot batters. They got contributions up and down the lineup. Henry Kazan went 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored in the No. 5 hole, Mike Collom had two hits and drove in three runs in the No. 6 spot while pinch-hitter Anthony Calvo came through with a two-run single in the No. 9 hole. The Dons finished the game by banging out 13 hits.
“A lot of time, you get excited for your first three guys,” Souza said. “I’ve learned to get excited about the entire lineup.”
But the Aragon offense did not end after the first inning. The Dons added a fourth run in the second when Matt Fitzgerald doubled, went to third on a Dakota Severson bunt for a base hit and scored on a double-play grounder.
The Dons pushed their lead to 5-0 with a single run in the third. Hussain, who went 2 for 2, led off the inning with a single, went to third on a Kyle Nichol double and scored on a Collom single to left.
In the fourth, the Dons broke the game open with four runs on three hits as they batted around. Severson led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch, went to second on a wild pitch, stole third and then scored on a dropped third strike against Grant. Later in the inning, Hussain roped a RBI single to left to plate Collard, who had reached on a fielder’s choice. Collom capped the uprising with a two-run single to put the Dons up 9-0.
Aragon capped the scoring on Calvo’s two-run single in the sixth that drove in Kazan and Fitzgerald.
“We pushed the kids to open it early,” Souza said. “Every time we play King’s Academy, it’s been a grind. You can’t let them hang around.”