SANTA ROSA, Calif. – The Friday afternoon match-up between host Cardinal Newman and Ukiah was nothing like Wednesday’s affair in Ukiah. In that 3-2 win by Newman the Wildcats had a possible walk-off before the Cardinals recorded the final out.
Hot hitting Newman only had six hits on Wednesday, and although they only had two more on Friday, those eight hits, including three doubles, accounted for eight runs as Cardinal Newman (16-2, 6-0 North Bay League – Oak Division) coasted to an 8-1 victory.
“Yes, we did have our hitting shoes on today,” remarked Cardinals head coach Derek DeBenedetti. “The last game we felt was too close for us. We came prepared based on last time we saw them, worked on a few things, and stayed focused on the approach.”
Junior Brady Boyd had an RBI double, a single that drove in a run, a run scored and two stolen bases. Fellow junior Anane Wilson was on base all three times with a double and two walks plus he scored twice. Another junior Jack Lazark was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.
Lewis-Clark State-committed senior Nate Phelps had an RBI single, a run scored, a stolen base, plus he came on in relief to get the final out of the game. Benedictine University-bound senior Blake Bryson had an RBI single and a run scored, and junior Nate Niehaus had an RBI single.
The focus and approach wasn’t just at the plate for the Cardinals. The pitching and fielding was solid as well. Four pitchers combined for a two-hitter and Newman had 26 chances in the field without an error.
Junior Landon Rota started for the Cardinals on the mound. He went five innings and only allowed one hit and two bases on balls. Rota improved to 2-1 in his best outing of the season in seven appearances.
“Landon is capable of being one of our top pitches, and he is,” DeBenedetti said. “He’s getting his opportunities and he’s making the most of it.”
Newman got a run in the second when Niehaus drove in Lazark, two in the third with the big hit Boyd’s double, and in the fourth the Cardinals sent nine batters to the plate and five scored. Lazark and Wilson each had a double in the inning.
Ukiah (13-6, 3-3) got its lone run in the top of the seventh. Senior Ethan Holbrook reached on a fielder’s choice and after three straight bases on balls he scored on a walk to junior Hunter Schnit by Phelps who came on to face him with the sacks full. After the walk Phelps got the final out on a pop-up to third.
Cardinal Newman came into the game ranked No. 24 in the most recent Cal-Hi Sports rankings. They were up to No. 14 before a loss to Archbishop Mitty-San Jose in the semifinals of the prestigious Boras Classic two weeks ago in Sacramento.
Anything is possible but it appears the Cardinals have the NBL – Oak pretty much in hand, they are in Division 3 for the CIF North Coast Section playoffs and no D3 NCS teams are in the state rankings or even on the Bubble. It would seem Newman is a likely favorite in the D3 playoffs and possibly even in the new CIF state Northern Regional playoffs for its division.
“I think we have a good shot in the playoffs,” DeBenedetti said. “It’s a good group and this is the kind of baseball we want to play. Error free, good quality at-bats up and down, and solid starts.”