By Gary Onyshko, Assistant Coach—
Heading into the last week of the baseball season, the FMHS varsity baseball team had to win their last two games of the season against Cal City, Tuesday May 13th at home and Thursday May 15th at Cal City. If either game wasn’t completed, the best they could do was tie California City for last place in the High Desert League.
Cal City at Frazier Mountain (Game 1) Tuesday, May 13
Falcon pitchers Robert Gibson, Chris Richards and Matt Regan combined to hold Cal City to 6 runs through the first four innings. In addition to solid pitching, other good defensive plays by Falcon players included catcher Kevin Holcomb’s quick work throwing to Gibson, covering home plate on a passed ball and thwarting an attempted steal and a short time later Holcomb picking off of a runner’s attempting to steal second to stop Cal City in the top of the first.
In the second inning, shortstop Kent Holcomb fielded a grounder and threw to second baseman Ryan Oman to get the force at second. Center fielder Alex Oman caught a well-hit fly in the third. In the 4th , pitcher Chris Richards fielded a comebacker and got the batter at first, followed by getting the next batter to ground out to first baseman Alex Onyshko, followed by Richard’s relief on the mound, pitcher (and designated hitter) Matt Regan, getting the next batter to do the same thing.
Strong Falcon offense ran up the score to 13 in the first four innings. Their hitting included an RBI double by Richards, an RBI double and an RBI single by Kent Holcomb, an RBI triple by Onyshko, a bunt by Ryan Oman, an RBI double by Art Smith and an RBI by Matt Regan to name but a few contributions. But the hottest bat of all was Kevin Holcomb, who racked up 4 RBI’s from an RBI hit by pitch, an RBI sacrifice fly and a 2 RBI triple. Leading 13 to 6 going into the bottom of the 4th, a mercy ruling (one team winning when they are leading by 10 after 5 innings) seemed all but certain. But the weather intervened and the game was halted for rain.
With their quest to avoid a last place finish hanging in the balance, the impact of the rain delay was unknown. While both team’s coaches tentatively agreed to continue the game on Thursday in Cal City, (prior to playing Thursday’s game) the umpires of Thursday’s game could rule otherwise. They could toss Tuesday’s game altogether, ruling it as an incomplete or they could decide to play Thursday’s game first and only finish Tuesday’s if there was enough time. Either way would have probably meant only tying Cal City for last place.
Fortunately, on Thursday, the umpires ruled to finish Tuesday’s game first. Unfortunately, the Falcons were still not entirely out of the woods. If they didn’t get a quick mercy ruling by holding California City and then scoring 3 more runs (as quickly as possible), they still wouldn’t have time to play a complete second game. The game resumed but the Falcons didn’t add any more runs in the bottom of the 4th. A quick top of the 5th, without giving up any runs, was their next challenge.
Onyshko relieved Regan on the mound. Although he pitched very little this season, it was hoped that his slider could get the job done (a pitch taught to him by John Bever three years earlier that looked promising in practice but was untested in play this season). He quickly struck out the first batter. After the next batter walked, the following batter hit a grounder to third baseman Art Smith, who threw out the lead runner at second for the 2nd out. That was followed by a grounder to second baseman Ryan Oman who threw to first baseman Chris Richards for the final out. The first task was accomplished: the top of the 5th was quick without giving up any runs.
The next task was to quickly get 3 runs to end the game with a mercy ruling. After Onyshko started it off with a double, Ryan Oman and Riley walked, loading the bases, to bring up Kevin Holcomb who already had 4 RBI’s in this game from Tuesday’s play—a great sign. With one swing of his bat, Holcomb blasted a three-run double and delivered the win (not bad for a freshman)! The next challenge was to win the second game of the day against California City, which would be the last game of the season.
Frazier Mountain at California City (Game 2) Thursday
The Falcons were given no time to celebrate their victory against Cal City in the first game. Game two was started immediately. The game went 7 complete—and long—innings. Strong Falcon pitching from Matt Regan and Robert Gibson, along with strong defensive play, did an excellent job of holding Cal City to just 1 run in the first 5 innings. Falcon offense also did its job and ran the score up to 10, just one short of getting a mercy ruling, so the game continued into the 6th inning. In the top of the 6th Alex Onyshko relieved Robert on the mound and California City was put down on a fly out to centerfielder Alex Oman and two strikeouts. In the top of the 7th, Kent single-handedly added one to the Falcon total when he was hit by a pitch, then stole 2nd, 3rd and home taking advantage of passed balls and wild pitches.
Both teams were obviously tired from playing so long in hot windy weather. Although the Falcons were now winning by 10 (11 to 1) Cal City was entitled to their last at-bats since they were the home team in this game. To the bottom of the 7th they went. After the first batter was quickly struck out, Cal City added 4 runs after a couple of walks and the Falsons’ missed fielding opportunities to get the second out, which finally came from another strikeout. Onyshko was clearly fading when the bases became loaded from another walk and another missed fielding opportunity to get the last out, which gave Cal City another 2 runs. The tying run stepped up to the plate. With the sun setting behind the distant outline of the southern Sierra mountains, it was beginning to look like it was also setting on the Falcon effort to avoid last place.
Then, to the relief of everyone—especially Head Coach Mike Oman and Assistant Coaches Dave Gordon and Gary Onyshko—Alex Onyshko struck out the last batter, ending the game by striking out the side and advancing the Falcons out of last place and into fourth place in the standings.
This is part of the May 23, 2014 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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