Ventura County executed small-ball to perfection in an 8-1 win over the Solana Beach Redbirds Thursday afternoon to clinch a berth in the Sunset Baseball League Finals Saturday and Sunday at Cal State Fullerton.
Pirates batters have moved their teammates around the bases at will so far in the playoffs. The club is playing some of its best baseball of the season at the best possible time.
“They play for each other, more so than any team I’ve seen in the Sunset Baseball League,” general manager George Vranau said.
The Pirates have gotten length from their pitchers this postseason, and Curren Larson continued that trend Thursday. He induced weak contact with incredible command of his off-speed pitches during his five innings of work.
Larson (6-1) did not walk a batter, struck out four Redbirds, and allowed one earned run on six hits while earning the win.
Pirates’ first baseman Jason Ajamian continued his OPS clinic with two walks and a double. He scored each of the three times he reached base. His season OPS was 1.267 entering the game.
Ajamian made a lunging pick on a short-hopped throw from second baseman Kyle Soberano who himself had made a remarkable play sliding to his right behind second base to rob the Redbirds of a base hit. The play helped the Pirates put Solana Beach down in order in the top of the first.
Soberano was 2-4 with a double, two runs, and a walk. He is batting above .440 this season.
Though Soberano’s was the only two-hit performance against the Redbirds, the entire Ventura County lineup contributed to the win. Outfielder Keaton Glover executed two sacrifices and was rewarded with an RBI. Designated hitter Kaleyl Anderson tallied RBIs in consecutive at-bats. Catcher Bradley Chesterton laced an RBI single and scored a run.
Third baseman Hunter Konecny-Pena punched an RBI single into right then advanced to second when the outfielder bobbled the ball allowing him to score later in the inning. He scored his second run after being hit by the pitch in the fifth.
Extra hitter Emilio Morales was officially 0-3 with a walk, but he was robbed of a base hit by the scorers’ table on a ball that took an unpredictable bad-hop into the face of the Redbirds’ shortstop. He reached base safely in half of his plate appearances.
The Redbirds advanced in a must-win game following their loss to the Pirates. The two teams meet 7 p.m. Saturday in game 1 of the SBL Finals which is a best-of-three series at Cal State Fullerton.