NAPA — A complete game shutout and scoring 10 runs are a good start to making a run in the State Tournament.
Payton Tyler pitched the complete game shutout as the Fairfield Expos American Legion baseball team routed the Merced Volunteers 10-0 in the opening round of the State Tournament, Wednesday, at Napa High School.
The Expos will play the Petaluma Leghorns, Thursday at 3 p.m. in Yountville.
Tyler allowed just three hits in seven innings of work, walking just one while striking out seven. The walk came with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
The first inning was the only inning in which the Volunteers had two runners on base, one of which was a double, the v extra-base hit in the game for Merced.
After a lead-off single in the bottom of the second, Tyler retired 12 straight batters, striking out four in the span. After a lead-off single in the bottom of the sixth, Tyler retired the next five batters, allowed the walk in the seventh and struck out Merced’s last batter to end the game.
“It’s all about pitching,” Expos manager Brad Hanson said. “And when Payton comes out and pitches like that, not many teams can beat him.”
Tyler said he was using a two-seam fastball, curveball, slider and change-up against the Volunteers.
“I just felt loose,” he said. “I was throwing fastballs for strikes, getting ahead of batters, and that allowed me to throw my off-speed stuff out of the zone to make (Merced) fish.”
Unlike the Volunteers, the Expos’ bats were swinging away, especially in the top of the fifth inning, where the Expos scored six times, expanding its lead to 8-0.
A lead-off single from Jason Brasile got things started, then Jack Gamba was hit by a pitch, and JP San Antonio reached on an error, loading the bases for Jake Hedrick, who then hit a single up the middle, scoring Brasile.
With the bases loaded again, Cameron Michael hit a bases-clearing double to center field, and Garlind Webster hit a two-run home run after that, ending Merced’s starting pitcher’s day.
The Voulnteers’ reliever got the job done with his off-speed pitches, stopping the bleeding in the fifth, and going 1-2-3 in the sixth, but allowed two runs in the top of the seventh to give the Expos its 10-0 advantage. Anthony Kaleczyc and Brasile each hit RBI-singles, scoring Webster and Carter Bins, respectively.
The end of the game was a bit of a chess match for Hanson, knowing that a 10-run rule would get Tyler out of the game early, not having to pitch nine innings or use relief pitchers.
“I didn’t want to use a relief pitcher,” Hanson said. “I didn’t even want to warm one up. I wanted them to sit on their arms. Now I have more options for (Thursday’s) game. That doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to win, but it puts us in a better position for tomorrow.”
Tyler was also appreciative of his offenses 10 runs.
“The 10 runs let me finish the game, because I probably wouldn’t have gone nine (innings),” he said/ “The runs lets me finish the game, saved our pitching and it’s always easier to pitch with a lead.”