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Kimball hands Sierra its 1st Valley Oak League defeat

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Kimball shortstop Drew Reddick (9) turns an inning-ending double play after forcing out Sierra’s Julian Cantu in the bottom of the sixth.

POSTED April 11, 2018 1:58 a.m.

The only certainty in the unpredictable Valley Oak League this season is that no team will finish undefeated.
That’s now guaranteed after Sierra’s 9-2 loss to visiting Kimball on Tuesday.
The Timberwolves (2-1, 7-6 overall), who still have to make up their two-game series with Central Catholic, were the only VOL club to enter the week without a loss. Kimball (3-1, 9-7) has had the look of a contender so far, and the Jaguars capitalized on three errors, six walks, solid pitching and clutch hitting for their latest victory.
“The league this year is good,” Sierra coach Jack Thomson said. “That’s what I told the kids the other day. Every team we play is going to be just like this. We’re going to have to get better if we want to compete.”
It was a close game until the seventh, when Kimball broke it open with a six-run rally aided by an error, five walks and a hit batter. Justin Schober belted a two-run single in the inning, finishing 3 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs.
Winning pitcher Kenny McCarroll needed just 48 pitches to get through 4 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and two runs. Kyle Gibson got the save in long relief and recorded the only strikeout of the game.
Early miscues helped the Jaguars stake an early lead. Roberto Marquez led off the third with a double down the third-base line and scored on a passed ball. A two-out fielding error later in the inning allowed Schober to score from second base.
Sierra answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, but it didn’t take long for Kimball to recapture the lead. In the fifth, speedy No. 9 batter Preston Wilson reached on an infield single and was driven in on a single from Schober. Before plating the go-ahead run, however, he was able to steal third after Sierra pitcher Jacob Peterson attempted to pick him off at second.
“This has been the story of our season,” Thomson said. “I don’t know if it’s that we’re not tough enough yet, but when we have an opportunity to make a play that’s going to squelch an inning we just don’t do it. This wasn’t the first time. I don’t think we’re that bad, but we don’t make plays when we need to.
“I think we’re more talented than we were last year, and last year we went 9-5 in league because our players bought into the little things.”
Offensively, Sierra could only muster five hits despite making solid contact throughout. The Timberwolves loaded the bases with one out in the third but came up empty-handed.
Peterson started their half of the fourth with a double to the right-field fence. He was plated on Slyder Blyth’s single up the middle, and Hunter Frisk scored on a wild pitch.
Kimball was able to limit the damage thanks to shortstop Drew Reddick. With two runners on base and one out, he robbed Jared Bagley of a hit with a diving grab before throwing out Blyth at second. Reddick then ended the inning with a routine throw to first.
“Our approach at the plate today was not that bad,” Thomson said. “We squared a few balls up and had nothing to show for it. Their shortstop was huge today and made some big-time plays. If he doesn’t make that play we have a chance to put up one or two more runs.”
Peterson did all he could from the mound for Sierra. Through six innings, he threw just 68 pitches but ended up surrendering nine runs on seven hits and four walks.
“He could have been throwing a shutout through six,” Thomson said. “Against a pretty good team he did a real good job, we just didn’t do a real good job of supporting him.”

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