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Stevenson silences Sierras bats in Sonora win
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Sierra infielder Dominic Alejandre waits for the throw as Sonora slides toward second base on a steal attempt. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

Jack Thomson’s 501st victory will have to wait.

His Sierra High baseball team opened the Valley Oak League season Wednesday with a disappointing 12-0 six-inning loss to visiting Sonora.

The Timberwolves (0-1, 8-3) helped their coach reach the career milestone in last Friday’s convincing 13-3 win at Del Campo.

“We didn’t play any phase of the game very well today,” Thomson said. “Hopefully this is just the exception to the rule. We did a good job in the preseason and played well. Today our at-bats weren’t as competitive as they could have been.”

Vice Principal Greg Leland organized a short ceremony to honor Thomson’s achievement before the contest, which was originally scheduled to be played at Sonora.

Sonora ace pitcher Ryan Stevenson stole the show. He twirled a four-hit shutout and struck out 10, though it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the junior lefty.

Stevenson had some wild moments and walked five batters, three coming consecutively to start the bottom of the second inning with his Wildcats (1-0, 9-3) already ahead 4-0.

“I just had to make it dramatic,” he joked.

He got out of the jam by throwing strikes on nine of his next 10 pitches for three straight strikeouts.

“That just added to their momentum,” Thomson said.

Sierra threatened again in the fourth with back-to-back two-out singles from Joseph Collett and Makana Ward, but Stevenson again clutched up and with a big strikeout.

Sonora went for the kill over the final two innings. In the fifth, Bradley Begley, Justine Payne (doubled) and Grant Dodge strung together three one-out hits as the Wildcats went on to add three more runs to their lead. Those same three batters each knocked in a run in succession during a five-run sixth.

Starting pitcher Mark Crain lasted five innings for Sierra, fanning 10 but allowing seven runs (five earned) on six hits, three walks and a hit batsman.

Sonora totaled 11 hits and was paced by leadoff hitter Karson Canaday’s 3-for-5 effort that included three runs. Begley went 2 for 2 with two walks and three runs. Payne finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

“Our hitting today was phenomenal,” Stevenson said. “Up and down the lineup guys were coming through. They got into scoring position and the guys behind them got the key hits.”