Sierra relief pitcher Andruw Navarro took the mound with the game on the line in the sixth inning Wednesday and came through big time for the Timberwolves in a 5-4 Valley Oak League baseball win over host East Union at Agostini Field.
With two out, one across and runners on first and second in the Lancers sixth, Navarro came in and threw three consecutive strikes to end the inning. He repeated that feat to start the seventh inning before a groundout and then a double. He then caught the East Union runner leaning off second and picked him off to end the game.
“We were up by one and I wanted to stay aggressive,” Navarro said. “And I wanted to stay aggressive with my fast ball over the plate, because I could trust my defense.
“On the pickoff, I came set and I just wanted to keep him honest. I didn’t think he was going to get that far off, but I got lucky and we picked him off.”
Tyler Looney had the big hit for Sierra (8-3 VOL, 11-9 overall) with a two-out, two-run home run in the fourth inning to put the Timberwolves ahead 3-1. The Timberwolves would not trail again.
“I knew after my first at-bat that I had to change something in my swing,” Looney said. “I didn’t feel ready in my first at-bat.
“In the on-deck circle for my second at-bat I focused up and took concise, good swings for practice swings.”
Nikko Camarena reached base four time for Sierra, going 3 for 3 with a run and a walk.
“We have been working on fundamentals,” Camarena said. “This is a rival game and you have to show up and show out.
“We played a good game today, and I am happy with how we did. We made a few mental mistakes, but we overcame them.”
The two teams combined for 15 hits with just two errors.
“This kind of gave off a playoff baseball vibe today,” Timberwolves coach Travis Thomson said. “It was a tough game with both teams wanting to win and playing hard. I’m proud of our guys. They stood their ground and battled the whole game. It was a great effort on our part.
“When Mitch Van Zwaluwenburg got hurt Dre Gutierrez got pulled in with just about a one-second notice. He hasn’t played much but he works really hard in practice, and he turned the first pitch he saw into a two-out double.”
That double by Gutierrez plated Jack Cunial (double, RBI, run) and tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth. It didn’t stay tied long because Looney was up next, and he belted his two-run home run.
“I was called in so I had to get my timing down as soon as possible,” Gutierrez said. “Next thing you know, I was at the plate and first pitch, doink, right over the left fielder’s head.”
Dylan Lee went 2 for 3 with a double and a run for the Lancers (3-8, 9-10). Ace Avelar (2 for 4), Blake Mount (run) and Carson Sanders all doubled for East Union.
The Lancers were snake bit by base-running miscues with two runners getting picked off and one getting caught stealing.
“We had a couple of mental mistakes that were very costly,” East Union coach Dan Bauer said.
“A.J. (Vasquez) pitched a fantastic game and kept them off balance. Our defense was pretty solid. But a couple of costly mental mistakes is what can happen in high-school baseball.”
The two teams conclude their season series Friday at Jack Thomson Stadium at 4 p.m.