By Jenn Leser
Neptune Beach Pearl
Kicking off the 2012 season, the Neptune Beach Pearl opened their 2012 summer season Saturday, June 2, with a narrow loss to the Bay Area Warriors before a crowd of over 300 fans at College of Alameda. This is the collegiate summer league team's second season in Alameda.
The day started off by celebrating the Alameda Little League, including the Double-A Knights, who are sponsored this season by the Pearl.
After the Warriors got on the board on a stolen-base run, the Pearl got off to a blazing start, picking up five runs in the first inning to take a 5-1 lead. Led on the mound by right-handed pitcher Kyle Hassna (San Jose State), the first inning saw first baseman Blake Bass (Texas Tech), third baseman Bob Cruikshank (University of San Francisco), shortstop Jeff Bouleware (Sonoma State) and catcher Jordan Louie (Oregon State) pick up four consecutive RBI hits.
With designated hitter Peter Creamer (Eastern New Mexico) hitting an RBI single to score left fielder Roger Boulden (Chico State) in the second, the Pearl was able to maintain a 6-1 lead until the fifth inning. The Warriors came roaring back at 6-5, causing a pitching change with right-hander Tyler Cobb (Chabot College) leading the way. After giving up three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth, Cobb let the offense go work, evening the score at 9-9 thanks to an RBI double from Bouleware and RBI single again from Creamer.
Right-handed pitcher Jake Popovich (University of San Francisco) came on in the seventh to keep the Pearl in the game, but the Warriors were ultimately able to score two runs in the top of the 8th. Despite the Pearl picking up a run thanks to an RBI double off the bat of Cruikshank, they were ultimately unable to fight back to earn the win, falling 11-10 to finish off the first game of the season.
“At times we weren’t very good at defense, but we did swing the bats well,” Coach Brant Cummings said. Even with the loss, the Pearl showed solid hitting, anchored by Cruikshank.
“I was just trying to see the ball up front, my contact point on that and where I was hitting the ball, Cruikshank said. “I was hitting the ball back in the zone and working on hitting it up front more.”
The third baseman finished the game with an RBI double, RBI single and a stolen base, indicating that the Pearl has speed as well.
Despite the loss, Cummings is pleased with how the first day went. “It’s disappointing to lose but I’m glad to see it all come together,” Cummings said. With a brand new team, Cummings thought that they managed to find a mix of players that worked, as evident by the close score throughout and the Pearl’s consistent ability to fight back and tie up the game.
For his first time playing summer ball, Cruikshank enjoyed the experience as well. “Good first game, fun field to play on, more fans than I thought; it’s a fun environment,” Cruikshank said.
“I liked it, it was fun. It was nice to sit back and free up and play more and relax a little bit compared to school ball.”
The Pearl are back in action Sunday, June 3, in a rematch against the Warriors in Marin at 1 pm. They return home Tuesday, June 5, to take on the San Francisco Seals at Laney College in Oakland at 6 pm.
For the season's complete schdule, see the Neptune Beach Pearl website.
Jenn Leser is a sophomore communication and political science major from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. A lifelong Bay Area resident and avid baseball fan, she is the 2012 media relations intern for the Neptune Beach Pearl.