By Hugo Traverso
The Healdsburg Prune Packers faced the Sonoma Stompers at Recreation Park in Healdsburg on Tuesday, June 21st. Noah Rennard started for the Pack and delivered 4 innings only allowing 4 hits, a walk and 2 runs, all while striking out 6 of the 17 batters he faced. Christian McInerney started for Sonoma and showed his talent of locating pitches instantly, only throwing 7 balls throughout his 2 innings of work. The Packers offense noticed this, though and started unloading their power, scoring 2 in the 1st and 5 in the 2nd.
In the 3rd, they scored 1 more to make it 8-2, but were blanked in the 4th by Hawk Hill who came in in the 3rd inning. The 0 put on the board by Hill gave the Stompers some confidence and they scored 3 runs on Derek Bridges in the 5th and 6th. Bridges, out of Texas Tech, made his Prune Packers debut and was able to hold the Stompers to just 3 runs, but the Stompers had done their damage, cutting the lead to 8-5.
Carson Galvich came in in the bottom of the 6th and pitched well, but do to a combination of hits, walks and unfortunate errors for the Stompers, the Packers put up 5 runs (3 were earned runs) to make their lead 8-5. Maddux Miller and Devin Kirby finished the last 3 innings for the Pack, only allowing 2 hits and striking out 4 batters which guided the Pack to a 13-5 victory over their cross county rivals, the Stompers.
Rennard returned in the top of the 2nd and retired the side in order, striking out Cop, getting LF Alex Leopard out of SRJC to ground out to shortstop and getting Bell to fly out to left field. 2B Joe Brown out of Cal Berkeley lead off for the Packers in the bottom of the 2nd and grounded out to 2nd which brought up SS Lauden Brooks out of Texas Tech. On the first pitch, he bunted and reached first in time to put a runner on first for the Packers top of the lineup. On the third pitch of Holcroft’s at bat who was in a 2-0 count, Brooks took off and showed off his great speed, beating the throw to steal 2nd. Holcroft was able to reach first 3 pitches later on a walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd for the co-homer leader Sundstrom. Sundstrom grounded to Gouveia at shortstop and Gouveia threw it onto Charpiot at 2nd to get Holcroft out, but when he tried to throw out Sundstrom, he threw too far right of Cop and the ball rolled out of play. Sundstrom sprinted to second and Brooks scored to make it 3-0. Blake Burke came up and hit a double to deep right which allowed Sundstrom to beat the hard throw to home from McEnroe to score. Kramer came up and was hit by a pitch, bringing up Runion with runners on first and second. On a 2-2 count, Runion hit a hard line drive that traveled over the wall in center field and on to the basketball courts for a 407 foot 3 run Home Run to make it 7-0 Prune Packers. McInerney then struck out McDonald to escape the inning.
Rennard came back in the third and walked Charpiot to start the inning. Catcher Colton Lomanto hit a double that rolled to the wall and Charpiot sped around the bases, beating the throw home to score the Stompers’ first run. CF Jackson Castillo out of the College of Southern Nevada and McEnroe came up and Rennard struck them both out without throwing a ball. Gouveia came up and hit a single into center field allowing Lomanto to score and the Stompers to cut the lead to 5. Noah Rabin was struck out to end the half inning and Rennard left the mound having struck out the side. Hawk Hill came in to pitch for the Stompers and Crawford led off with a single before Brown was hit by a pitch. Lauden Brooks came up and on a 2-0 count, Hill pitched too high and right of the catcher and the ball ricocheted softly off the backstop fence, allowing Brown to move to 2nd and Crawford to move to third. Brooks walked to load the bases for Holcroft who hit a single into left field, but Leopard fired in the ball to third to get Brown out for the first out of the inning. Crawford scored, though, and the Packers took a 8-2 lead. Sundstrom grounded to third base and Bell tagged the bag to get Brooks out, but Sundstrom beat the throw to first to keep the rally going. Burke came up and hit a line drive to second and Charpiot made the catch to end the inning.
In the 4th, Sam Hunt from Texas Tech subbed in in left field for Burke and Davis Cop lead off for the Stompers. He hit a double to left field and beat the tag by a few seconds after a great throw from Hunt. Leopard then hit a grounder that was fielded by Brooks and thrown on to first to get the first out. Rennard then showed his talent on the mound, getting Bell to strike out swinging for his 6th strikeout of the game. Connor Charpiot came up and hit a line drive to center that Holcroft moved back on and made the catch to end the top of the fourth. Hill came out for the bottom of the 4th and gave the Stompers what they needed. After Kramer led off with a single, Runion hit a grounder to shortstop that Gouveia fielded, tossed to Charpiot at second to get Kramer and Charpiot threw it to Cop at first to get the double play. McDonald came up and hit a grounder to Bell and Bell threw it onto first to secure a blank frame for the Stompers and give Sonoma the extra confidence they needed.
Derek Bridges from Texas Tech came in for Noah Rennard in the 5th and was making his Prune Packer debut. Bridges pitched 22 innings for Tech, striking out 24 and achieving a 3.27 ERA in 2022. Lomanto led off and Bridges got him to ground out to Brooks at shortstop. Castillo then came up and hit a line drive to right field that carried the wall and landed near the right field bleachers for a 350 foot homer to make it 8-3 Packers. Bridges bounced back, striking out McEnroe and Gouveia to end the half inning. Carson Galvich came in for the Stompers and Crawford lead off for the Packers, smacking a triple off the wall and giving Brown an RBI chance. Brown hit a grounder to the pitcher who threw to third and got Crawford, who had left on contact, into a pickle that led to Crawford being tagged out at the plate by Lomanto, but Brown took advantage and advanced to second. Lauden Brooks then hit a line drive that was caught by Leopard, but Brown had left early because he thought the ball would fall in for a base hit so while Brown ran back, Leopard fired it into second and Charpiot tagged the bag to get Brown out for the final out of the inning.
Bridges continued his debut in the top of the 6th and walked Rabin to start the inning. He bounced back by striking out Cop, but gave up a single to Leopard to put a runner in scoring position. Michael Bell hit a line drive to center that was caught by Holcroft, but it was not the end of the Stompers offense. After a long at bat, Bridges walked Charpiot and gave up a 2 RBI single to Lomanto to make it 8-5 Packers. Bridges got out of the half inning by getting Castillo to ground out to Brooks. The Packers offense took it personally and had an offensive explosion in the bottom of the 6th. Holcroft and Sundstrom led off with singles putting runners on the corners for Sam Hunt. Hunt hit a single to left, scoring Holcroft and moving Sundstrom to second. Galvich struck out Kramer, but Runion got to first on a fielding error by Gouveia, McDonald and Crawford walked, scoring Sundstrom and Hunt to make it an 11-5 lead. Brown hit a single to center, scoring Runion and keeping the bases loaded. Brooks then hit a deep sacrifice fly to center, allowing McDonald to score and the Packers to take a 13-5 lead. Galvich got out of the inning by getting Holcroft to ground out to Cop at first. The Packers had added 5 insurance runs, taking an 8 run lead and had batted around.
In the top of the 8th, Miller struck out the side in order and kept the Packers 13-5 lead heading into the bottom half of the 8th. McDonald popped out to Bell to open up the inning for the Packers offense. Crawford then hit a line drive that was caught by McEnroe in right field and Zac Vooletich was subbed in for Joe Brown. Vooletich had 1 HR, 18 RBI, and a .279 batting average for Texas Tech this year, but flew out to center field to end the inning. 4 starts and had a 2.27 ERA at Oak Ridge High School in his 2021 Senior season and committed to play at Sacramento City College. Routon walked Sundstrom to start the inning, but Hunt popped out to third. Sundstrom was put out when Charpiot fielded a ground ball hit by Kramer and threw it to Gouveia for out #2. Runion then flew out to left field to end the inning.
In the top of the 8th, Miller struck out the side in order and kept the Packers 13-5 lead heading into the bottom half of the 8th. McDonald popped out to Bell to open up thhe inning for the Packers offense. Crawford then hit a line drive that was caught by McEnroe in right field and Zac Vooletich was subbed in for Joe Brown. Vooletich had 1 HR, 18 RBI, and a .279 batting average for Texas Tech this year, but flew out to center field to end the inning.
Devin Kirby came in to pitch in the ninth for the Packers and Dakota Duffalo pinch hit for Lomanto. Kirby pitched 31.1 innings for UConn in 2022, striking out 36 and achieving a 4.60 ERA. Duffalo had 3 HR, 12 RBI and a .293 batting average for Utah in 2022 and hit a single to leadoff the ninth for the Stompers. Castillo hit a single which put runners on 1st and 2nd for Cardinal Newman star Gavin Rognlien who was in to pinch hit for the Stompers. Rognlien had 5 HR, 31 RBI, a .327 batting average and a .452 on base percentage in his varsity career at Newman which led him to commit to play college baseball for Santa Clara in the spring of 2023. On a 3-2 pitch Rognlien hit a grounder to Brooks who tossed it to Vooletich to get Castillo and Vooletich threw it to first in time to get Rognlien for the double play. Gouveia hit a hard line drive to right, but Sundstrom moved in on it and caught it to end the game.
The Prune Packers achieved their 9th win of the season with a 13-5 victory over the Stompers. The Stompers dropped to 5-8 on the season while the Packers went to 9-2. Rennard got the win, going to 1-0 while McInerney got the loss, dropping to 0-1. The Packers stayed at the top of the CCL North and faced the Novato Knicks on Wednesday. The Prune Packers kept the Healdsburg community involved in the games on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday, Lala Luci, a Healdsburg local, sang a beautiful rendition of the national anthem and on Wednesday, the Healdsburg Community Band kept the crowd alive in the 3 hour and 21 minute thriller of a game against the Knicks.
In the game against the Knicks, Mason Dillow started for the Pack while Jake Dent started for the Knicks. Dillow pitched 37 innings and struck out 43 batters at Paradise Valley Community College in 2020 and 2021 before transferring to play baseball at Virginia. He was a 2nd team NJCAA Academic All-American in 2020, but was injured in the 2022 season and will make his Virginia debut in 2023 as part of the Cavs’ great pitching staff. The story of the game, though, was a Packers comeback from being down 6-1, new catcher from Cal Cole Elvis and Blake Burke. Burke hit a solo homer in the 1st inning that travelled 361 feet down the right field line and gave the Pack a 1-0 lead. Burke, out of De La Salle High School and the University of Tennessee, hit a freshman record 14 bombs for the #1 Vols, had 32 RBI and a .326 batting average in 2022. Burke hit another solo homer in the 3rd inning to cut the deficit to 4 runs, but the Packers’ offensive volcano was still building up. In the 5th, with the Packers trailing 8-3, Burke came up with 2 runners on. He crushed a towering 3 run homer to make it 8-6 Knicks, but the Packers offense wasn’t done. In the 6th, Cole Elvis, the newest addition to the Packers, a catcher from Cal, came up with the bases loaded. Burke was on second because he had walked earlier in the inning. Elvis had only had 3 HR, 41 RBI and a .266 batting average for the Bears in 2022 and had graduated with a degree in American Studies. He entered the draft and it looks like he will be drafted in the upcoming MLB Draft. He crushed a long grand slam to give the Packers a 10-8 lead and it completed an 8 run-2 inning rally. The Knicks rallied back in the 9th, scoring 3 runs to take a 11-10. Elvis was the savior for the Packers in the 9th when he came up with one out and hit a homer to tie the game up 11-11. Bridges came in in the top of the 10th and retired the side, striking out 2. In the bottom of the 10th, Zac Vooletich doubled and Brooks came up. Brooks reached on an error that moved Vooletich over. McDonald came up and hit a sac fly, scoring Vooletich and giving the Packers their 10th win of the season.
The Packers beat the Mudcats yesterday, 10-3 to advance to 11-2 on the season. They are at the top of the CCL North, 3 games in front of the Lincoln Potters.