By Dustin Chavez, Neptune Beach Pearl
The Neptune Beach Pearl advanced to the final Far West League championship games with wins Saturday in the playoffs, being held in Arcata.
Game 1, Friday, Aug. 3: Menlo Park Legends 5, Neptune Beach Pearl 3
Kicking off the first round of the playoffs Aug. 3, the Neptune Beach Pearl took on the Menlo Park Legends as they hoped to move on to the second round in the Far West League championships.
The Pearl struck early, knocking out three hits and capitalizing on an error to go up 3-0 in the top of the first. Designated hitter Peter Creamer (Eastern New Mexico) had an RBI groundout, center fielder Clay Williamson (Cal State Fullerton) came home on an error and first baseman Blake Bass (Texas Tech) hit an RBI single, giving the Pearl their first lead of the game. The Legends rebounded, picking up one in the third and four in the fifth to overtake the Pearl at 5-3. The Pearl was unable to get their bats working again as they fell to the Legends 3-5 to earn a loss in the first round.
On the mound, starter Jake Popovich (University of San Francisco) had a strong outing, giving up two runs and five hits, while striking out three through 4 2/3 innings. Logan Scott (University of California) came in to close out the fifth, giving up a two-run double with the bases loaded to put the Legends up 5-3. Scott would finish out the game, striking out four and giving up three hits and four runs.
Game 2, Saturday, Aug. 4: Neptune Beach Pearl 7, Southern Oregon Riverdawgs 3
Looking to salvage a win and stay alive in the Far West League playoffs, the Neptune Beach Pearl took on the Southern Oregon Riverdawgs Saturday morning, knowing that a loss would mean elimination and the season’s end.
The Riverdawgs struck first offensively, picking up a run in the fifth inning, but the Pearl quickly rebounded, scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth. The hits didn’t stop there as Joe Moroney (Kansas) hit a 2 RBI single to give the Pearl their first lead of the game. Clay Williamson (Cal State Fullerton), who came up big in Friday’s game, hit a RBI sacrifice bunt to make it 3-1, and Casey Watkins (Cal State Fullerton) knocked in a RBI single to keep the game out of reach. The Pearl picked up three more runs in the bottom of the eighth, making the final score a 7-3 victory for Neptune Beach.
Strong pitching from starter Chris Garrison (University of Kentucky) kept the Pearl’s hopes alive as the righthander went eight innings and only giving up three runs. Jordan Louie (Oregon State) came in during the ninth to close out the game and, as he’s done all season, produced another lights-out final inning to give the Pearl the W.
Game 3. Saturday, Aug. 4: Neptune Beach Pearl 7, Menlo Park Legends 3
Just hours after picking up a must-need win to stay alive in the Far West League playoffs, the Neptune Beach Pearl took the field Saturday night to face off against the Menlo Park Legends, knowing that a W would mean fighting for the championship, and an L would send them home.
The Legends got ahead early, knocking in a run in the first inning, but the Pearl would rebound quickly. Center fielder Clay Williamson (Cal State Fullerton), the hero of the playoffs for the Pearl offensively, hit a 2 RBI triple before coming home on a wild pitch to make the score 3-1 in the second. Menlo Park battled back to pick up another run in the fourth, but first baseman Blake Bass (Texas Tech) hit a 2 RBI single to give the Pearl a 5-2 lead in the fifth.
The bottom half of the inning saw the Legends take advantage of a double and a throwing error to score another run, making it 5-3. Right fielder Roger Boulden (Chico State) hit an RBI sacrifice fly and the Pearl added another run to make it 7-3. Solid pitching from starter Jake Chutney (Seattle University) and reliever Matt Evanoff (Berkeley) sealed the final score as a 7-3 Neptune Beach win, knocking the Legends out of the playoffs and keeping the Pearl alive for another day.
The Pearl will face off against the Humboldt Crabs Sunday at noon, and if they are victorious, they take on the Crabs one last time at 4 p.m. to fight for the Far West League championship.
More information can be found on the Neptune Beach Pearl website (www.neptunebeachpearl.com) and will be updated as the action happens.