FAIRFIELD — This time around, the Fairfield Expos American Legion baseball team was on the right side of the 10-run rule.
After losing 14-4 the night before, the Expos, with the help of a six-run bottom of the second inning, defeated the Lodi Legion 13-2, ending the game in the seventh inning to advance in the loser’s bracket of the Area 1 tournament at Laurel Creek Park, Friday.
The Expos will play defending Area 1 and state champion Petaluma at Laurel Creek, Saturday, at 1 p.m. The Expos need to win that game or, if they lose, a game on Sunday against the loser of Saturday’s 10 a.m. game between Chico and Humboldt to move on to the state tournament.
Gamba’s performance, while not picturesque, was a solid representation of the outing of his predecessor, starter Payton Tyler.
While Tyler allowed seven hits, he only gave up only one run, while striking out four and walking three. Tyler forced Lodi batters into eight ground balls, one of which was a 5-4-3 double play in the third inning.
“(Tyler) was the difference,” Expos manager Brad Hanson said. “He was on and (Lodi) couldn’t hit him. He kept them off balance and our defense was solid. If we can keep the ball in the strike zone, we generally have a good chance to win.”
On the opposite side, Lodi’s pitching couldn’t stop the Expos’ bats, giving up 14 hits, six of which were for extra bases (three doubles and three triples).
Though no hits were recorded, the Expos jumped to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a walk, two hit batters and an error. WIth the bases loaded, Jo Jo Quintanilla hit a hard grounder to the Lodi’s second baseman Mike Meineike, who juggled the ball allowing JP San Antonio to score.
Lodi’s starter, Kelsi Depauli Wiltse, threw 29 pitches in the inning, a figure he would approach in the next inning as well.
After Lodi answered with a run of its own in the top of the second, Wiltse threw 25 pitches in the bottom of the inning, giving up seven runs, six of which were earned.
Gamba got the ball rolling for the Expos in the second by hitting a one out single to left. San Antonio, Jake Hedrick and Cameron Michael then hit consecutive singles, putting three runs on the board thanks to Michael’s single that bounced between right fielder Trent George’s legs, rolling to the fence. Hits from Quintanilla, Anthony Kaleczyc and San Antonio (again) plated three more runs, giving the Expos a 7-1 lead that would never come close to being challenged.
The Expos then added two runs each in the fourth, fifth and sixth to give them a comfortable 13-1 lead.
“I think we did a good job,” Hanson said. “We just have to step up tomorrow, win the ball game and we’ll be in the state tournament.”
Though Hedrick only had one RBI for the Expos, he scored three times thanks to his 3 for 4 performance, which included triples in the fifth and sixth innings.
Lodi’s Meineike was immune to the Expos’ pitching, going 4 for 4 at the plate, with a triple and three singles. He also had one RBI.
Michael led in the RBI department for the Expos with three, going 2 for 4, while Quintanilla and Kaleczyc each had two RBIs.