Kicking off the first game in the doubleheader against the San Francisco Seagulls June 15th, the Neptune Beach Pearl looked to get a W after their first loss in eight games the day before.
The action got started early as catcher Casey Watkins (Cal State Fullerton) hit an out-of-the-park home run in the first inning, giving the Pearl a 1-1 lead. Shortstop Richie Johnson (San Jose State) scored another run with an RBI double in the second and the next batter, second baseman Jeff Boulware (Sonoma State) smacked in a 2 RBI double to make it 4-1 Pearl.
The fourth inning was when the Pearl really hit their stride offensively. First baseman Oscar Aguirre (Florida International) led off the inning with a single before getting caught stealing. Shortstop Richie Johnson (San Jose State) singled and stole second, and second baseman Jeff Boulware (Sonoma State) singled before left fielder Alan Baldwin (University of Hawaii) drove in a Johnson with an RBI single. But the scoring didn’t stop there as center fielder Clay Williamson (Cal State Fullerton) hit an RBI single and advanced to second on the throw. Two consecutive wild pitches scored Baldwin and Williamson to make it 8-1. Watkins doubled and stole third, and after a pitcher change for the Seagulls, a wild pitch scored him as the entire lineup batted in the inning to come out of the inning with a 9-1 lead.
Offensively, the Pearl didn’t slow down once their big inning ended. After loading the bases in the fifth, Watkins hit an RBI double to bring in two before designated hitter Peter Creamer (Eastern New Mexico University) hit an RBI single to make it 12-1. The sixth inning saw Baldwin drive in two with a 2 RBI single to give the Pearl a 14-1 lead. Aguirre came up big again in the seventh with a 2 RBI error to the right fielder, making it 16-1.
The eighth inning saw the Pearl keep up the pressure on the Seagulls with Watkins hitting a sacrifice fly to left field to bring a runner home. Third baseman Blake Bass hit a 2 RBI double to make it 19-1.
The pitching staff led the Pearl through another strong outing. Left hander Daniel Hancock (University of South Florida) got the start and threw four innings, with three strikeouts, five walks, one HBP and one earned run. Left hander Bret Hartnett (Seattle University) got the Pearl through two with no runs, before giving way to left hander Jake Chutney (Seattle University), who also threw two. Right hander Jordan Louie (Oregon State) came on in the ninth to close out the game, striking out the last batter.
After a short break, the Pearl was back in action for Game 2 against the Seagulls. Right hander Jason Kafka (San Jose State) threw five scoreless innings before right hander Michael Casper (Princeton) came in to end the game. The Pearl once again got off an early start offensively, scoring four in the first and with Watkins hitting for the cycle between the two games with an RBI triple to set the final score at 5-0. The team showed that despite the long day, the energy never died down. “When you’re having fun, you’re relaxed and it’s a lot easier to play,” Watkins said. “Everyone’s pretty loose and we came out here to win.”
The Pearl’s next game is June 16th at the Sacramento Spikes in Rocklin, Calif. They return home for a doubleheader against the Alameda Merchants Sunday June 17th.