Doherty, San Marcos hand Chargers their first league loss

Channel League teams are discovering that San Marcos is not a team to be taken lightly in baseball.

The Royals put themselves in playoff contention with a solid all-around performance in handing Dos Pueblos its first league loss, 11-3, Thursday at Scott O’Leary Field.

Evan Doherty pitched a complete game and contributed to the offense with two hits and an RBI. Jimmy Brakka had two hits and two RBIs, Paxton Ridgway drove in a pair of runs and collected two hits, and leadoff hitter Travis Caesar reached base four times with two hits and two walks, and scored two runs to pace San Marcos (8-8, 2-3).

The Royals also played outstanding defense. In the third, Cody Semler robbed DP’s Nolan Soto of a hit with a diving catch in right field. In the fifth, center fielder Joe Prince made a brilliant running, over-the-shoulder catch of a drive by DP’s Joe Huthsing. Third baseman Ridgway also made a tough catch on a wind-blown ball in short left field in the sixth.

“We were ready to play and ready to win,” said Doherty.

“It was very gutsy performance by our kids,” San Marcos assistant Michael Sandford said.

Of the Royals’ three league losses, two have been by 2-1 scores and the other was Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to Dos Pueblos, in which four of the runs came in the first inning.

One of the keys to San Marcos’ turnaround this season (it went 2-18, 0-12 last year) is coaches Pete Stathopoulos and Sandford have the team playing with an abundance of confidence. That was evident after Dos Pueblos closed the gap to 4-3 in the fourth inning. Doherty and the Royals stayed focused and strong. Doherty came up with the big pitches when needed and the defense behind him recorded the outs.

“We’re using positive coaching, teaching fundamentals and having fun,” said Sandford.

DP coach Nate Mendoza was impressed San Marcos’ play.

“It was a really good day for San Marcos,” he said. “They played great, they had more energy than us. They made better plays in the field, they had good pitching and they got timely hits. Hats off to San Marcos; they came out here with fire and they were better than us today.”

San Marcos put the game away with seven runs in the top of the seventh. The Royals capitalized on a couple of errors and got back-to-back two-run doubles by Sean MacDuffee and Ridgway and a RBI single by Semler to put the game out of reach.

The Royals jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Prince drew a one-out walk from Nolan, went to third on a single to right by Brakka and scored on a two-out single to center by Doherty.

San Marcos, with the help of a DP error, made it 3-0 in the third. The left-hand hitting Brakka stroked a single to right, scoring Caesar and Prince.

Dos Pueblos (12-5, 4-1) got a run back in the bottom of the third. Anthony Spiritosanto legged out an infield hit, stole second and scored on a bloop single to left by Gabe Speier.

The Royals went up 4-1 in the fourth when Ridgway singled, was sacrificed to second by Will Lorenzen and scored on a single to right by Caesar.

Dos Pueblos responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. After back-to-back walks to Daniel Vickers and Dylan Rohde, James Savage ripped a two-run double into the right-center field gap.

Doherty kept his composure, getting the next two batters to ground out to second base.

“Evan pitched a great game,” Sandford said. He didn’t have great stuff but he pitched a phenomenal game by just getting guys out. Their big hitters, he got them out — off-speed pitching, pitching around them. And our guys made the plays. That was the secret to the whole thing. It’s that simple.”

And the Royals showed they are a team to be reckoned with in the Channel League this season.

San Marcos 11, Dos Pueblos 3
San Marcos…102 100 7 — 11 9 0
Dos Pueblos…001 200 0 — 3 6 3
Doherty and MacDuffee; Soto, Curtis (7), Short (7) and Huthsing. W—Doherty (1-3), L—Soto (4-2).
2B—SM: MacDuffee, Ridgway. DP: Savage.