PLEASANTON, Calif. – Anthony Martinez hit a solo homer, and Cal Randal and Sam Sitzman combined to throw a four-hit shutout in a decisive 4-0 win at Foothill in a key East Bay Athletic League contest. The win improved the Spartans’ record to 8-1 in EBAL play and 16-3 overall, while the Falcons dropped to 7-2 in league play and 17-3 overall. With just a handful of games left on the season, San Ramon Valley (7-2) and California (6-2) also remain in the hunt for top dog status.
“I just wanted to stay fastballs, four spot, which is outside, just try to get ‘em to chase at it,” Randal said.
Randal (3-0, 2.28 ERA) got off to the right start, retiring the first five batters he faced, including Pepperdine-bound Jack Basseer and St. Mary’s-commit Brendan Comerford. Those first five failed to get a hit, no small feat for a pitching staff given that the combo entered the game with a .410 batting average. Randal also benefited from a sterling defense which included a pickoff by Randal in the second, and a nixed steal attempt by Foothill in the third.
“They’re swinging the bat well,” De La Salle head coach David Jeans said about Foothill. “Baseball comes down to pitching a lot of times, and we had two guys who were really good on the mound.”
Ryan Keenan allowed a couple of hits in the first but ended the threat and then set down the Spartans in order in the next two innings. He coughed up the home run to Martinez to break the 0-0 tie in the top of the fourth. In the fifth, he issued a leadoff single to Kai Smith, committed a balk, and made an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt. A.J. Bianchina then singled home Smith, and after a sacrifice bunt by Tanner Griffith, Martinez was intentionally walked. Keenan escaped trouble, however, inducing Cade Cushing and Connor Harrison to fly out.
In the bottom of the fifth, it appeared Foothill would get one right back as Nick Walsh and Trevor Harmon connected on back-to-back singles. Randal, with three hits, one walk, and five strikeouts on the stat line, gave way to Sitzman, who promptly ended the threat by retiring the next two batters.
Sitzman allowed just two more baserunners the rest of the way. He received extra support in the seventh when Cushman smoked a two-run single to left off Comerford to score Bianchina, who had reached on an error, and Griffith, who ended up on first after a fielder’s choice and then advanced to second when Foothill intentionally walked Martinez again.
“The first time I was like ‘If we drag here, they’re going to intentionally walk Martinez,’” Jeans remarked. “Cushing didn’t get it done there, but he got it done the next time.”
De La Salle tallied eight hits for the game, with two apiece from Bianchina and Cushing. Harmon provided two of Foothill’s four hits, all of which were singles.
“I’m coming back better this season, stronger and more stable,” Randal added. “I was a little loose last year, trying to get my feet wet.”
The Spartans play Dougherty Valley and Monte Vista next but will have their eyes particularly set on a rematch at home with San Ramon Valley, who beat De La Salle 3-2 on April 1, and on the regular season finale with California, whom they defeated 8-5 in their previous match up. Foothill will look to rebound against Granada and Dublin this week, and versus California and Amador Valley in the last week of league play.
Jeans expects his team will see Foothill again in the postseason, an element which will surely be especially treasured after two years of not having one because of COVID.
“We talked about in our last team meeting that the seniors didn’t get a chance to play in the playoffs at all,” Jeans said. “They’re actually playing for some of the seniors last year. They’re super excited. The NCS is going to be deep this year.”