ATWATER – The Bret Harte High School baseball team wanted to be challenged before it began Mother Lode League play and that was accomplished Thursday afternoon. The Bullfrogs hit the road to take on the Atwater Falcons, who have picked up wins over Gregori, Tokay, Beyer, Oakdale and Lodi for their final game before the start of league play.
Bret Harte put up a strong fight against a quality Central California Conference squad, but couldn't collect the clutch hits needed to knock off the Falcons. The Bullfrogs were defeated 4-0 Thursday against Atwater.
The Bullfrogs trailed early, as Atwater scored two runs in the first inning and two in the second against starting pitcher Luke Bakke. Although he gave up four runs in the first two innings, Bakke didn’t allow another Falcon to touch home. Bakke took the loss, pitching 5.1 strong innings.
“He battled for us and we didn’t play our best behind him, but you would have never known by the way he plays out there,” said Bret Harte head coach Michael Avecilla. “He goes out there, does his job and never gets on his teammates. He continues to battle, battle and battle and I’m proud of him. As far as I’m concerned, he held a pretty darn good division I team to four runs.”
Bakke was helped out by some outstanding plays from his defense. In the bottom of the fifth inning, sophomore left fielder Gabe Delgado threw out an Atwater runner trying to go from first to third on a single to left. Later in the inning, with two away and runners at second and third, senior center fielder Ryan Miguel made a diving catch to get Bakke out of the jam.
“That play was absolutely huge,” Avecilla said. “We wouldn’t be walking away with only a 4-0 loss if it wasn’t for that. Miguel was a beast today. He’s a hustler who knows how to play the game and that’s why he’s our center fielder.”
Although the Bullfrogs were unable to put any runs on the board, that didn’t mean the opportunities weren’t there. In the top of the third, Bakke singled and junior catcher James Avecilla walked, but were both stranded on base. The next inning, senior Danny Scott led off with a walk, but was thrown out trying to steal second on a failed hit-and-run.
Bret Harte had its chances in the final two innings to cut into Atwater’s lead. In the sixth, Ryan Mercado walked with two outs and Scott got hit by a pitch. With runners at first and second, Miguel popped out to first to end the inning.
Bret Harte was able to bring the tying run to the plate in the seventh. The Bullfrogs loaded the bases with Max Berg and Michael Costa drawing walks and Bakke getting hit by a pitch. With two outs and the bases loaded, Avecilla looked to come up with a big hit. The junior smoked a liner to right, but it didn’t fly far enough and was caught for the final out of the game.
Bret Harte (2-3) will now shift its focus to Mother Lode League play, which begins on the road Tuesday, March 19 against Amador in Sutter Creek.
“I don’t necessarily think that anyone in the Mother Lode League thinks they are where they should be right now and that’s because of all the rain preventing us from getting on the field,” Avecilla said about being ready for league play to start. “But, we are going to compete just as well as anyone in the Mother Lode League, regardless of the fact that we don’t have much practice on the field.”