Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Smith and Cronin turn the tide against Maui

The Strong Warriors of Maui were very good in the opening series of their inaugural season, but the Victoria Seals were better. Aided by a pair of defensive gems from Sean Smith and a timely, momentum-building homer from Shane Cronin, the Seals took the rubber game of their five-game series with Maui 4-3.

The visitors led for most of the night. In fact, Victoria didn't register a hit until Colin Moro hit a bouncing-ball single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth. In the top of the 7th, Maui held a 3-0 lead and they were threatening to put the game away. With a pair of runners aboard, Phil Avlas hit a long drive to left field that initially seemed destined to land on Pembroke Street. But Smith got to the wall and made a gorgeous leaping grab at the base of the fence to end the inning.

Earlier in the game, Smith made another beautiful catch on a drive that was hit down the left field line, but drifted into foul territory. Although Smith was positioned in the gap in left-centre, he got on his horse and raced over to snare the ball with a stunning diving catch.

Going into the bottom of the eighth, the Seals trailed 3-0 and were being out-hit 10-3. Eric Pringle chipped in with a single to start the inning and manager Bret Boone sent up the hot-hitting Shane Cronin to bat for the pitcher. On a 1-1 count, Cronin The Barbarian cranked his second homer in as many days and got the Seals to within one run. More importantly, the blast swung the momentum firmly into the Seals camp.

Three batters later, Colin Moro tied the game up with his second base hit of the night. He then scored the eventual winning run on a balk by TJ Macy. The balk was called by first-base umpire John DeLuca, who had another questionable game. Although we were all pleased when the balk was called, none of us in the lower part of my section could determine what Macy did to warrant the balk. Not surprisingly, DeLuca got an earful from Macy and Maui's manager Cory Snyder.

Earlier in the game, DeLuca blew another call. A wild throw from a Seals middle infielder shot past Terrence McClain at first base and bounded off the cement wall about 30 feet past the dugout. DeLuca made a loud (but incorrect) call and explained to anyone within earshot that this area was out of bounds and he then awarded both the runner on third and first an extra base. Luckily, the alert home-plate umpire Chuck Becker convened a quick conference with his two colleagues and reversed the botched call. The runners were sent back to first and third and the Seals got out of the inning without the run having scored.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Seals now have a 3-2 record and are 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Chico Outlaws.
  • Manager Bret Boone needs to find a way to get Shane Cronin into the lineup. He's doing everything he has been asked to do and he is tearing the cover off the ball. Maybe Cronin should rotate through the first base, third base and catcher positions. It seems a shame to only use him for pinch-hitting duties.
  • Josh Arhart had another great night behind the plate, throwing out two of three Maui runners attempting to steal second.
  • Brandon Villafuerte picked up his second save of the season.
  • Andrew Arreola got the win, his first of the season. Arreola has pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his three relief appearances this season.
  • The ace of the starting rotation, Jason Kershner, will be back on the hill for the Seals when the home stand continues on Thursday night.