By Spencer Hirsch |Asst. Sports Editor|
The Coyotes left it all on the field in a 16-inning, four-and-a-half hour marathon on the road on Sunday, Feb. 26 against conference opponent CSU Monterey Bay.
Unfortunately, they fell one run short of a victory, losing in a 7–6 heartbreaker in the finale of their four-game series against the Otters.
The Coyotes lost the series 3–1, which gives them an overall record of 6–7 and conference record of 3–5, fourth place in the CCAA.
The Otter’s artificial turf playing surface seemed to play a huge role in Sunday’s devastating loss.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Otters were threatening with runners at second and third and two outs.
The next Otter batter hit a routine ground ball to Coyote third baseman Darren Dworak.
Much to the surprise of Dworak, his teammates and head coach Don Parnell, the ball went between his legs, giving him an error and allowing two Otters to score.
“It’s the play he [Dworak] makes and has made his whole life,” said Parnell.
Dworak redeemed himself in the top of the ninth, with a one-out single to left field to help spark a two-run inning, and gave the ‘Yotes a 4-3 lead headed to the bottom half of the inning.
Parnell gave the ball to his All-American closer Josh Pond, with hopes of finishing off the Otters and getting the 2-2 series split.
The Otters’ predominantly left-handed hitting lineup was happy to face a right-hander, as they scored a run off of Pond to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
It was only the second blown save of Pond’s career in a Coyotes’ uniform, pushing his mark to 17 saves in 19 opportunities.
“I had my stuff. They just had my number that day,” said Pond.
In the top of the 15th inning, the Coyotes’ bats came to life as four hits helped them go up 6-4, capped off by second baseman Curtis Cassise’s RBI double down the left-field line and right fielder Edwin Mendoza’s RBI single to center field.
“When we went up 6-4, I thought for sure it was over,” said center fielder Ethan Chapman.
The Otters answered back in the bottom half however, scoring two runs off of right hand reliever Tony Guerra. All of the momentum seemed to shift to the Otters, as they came back up in the bottom of the 16th and scored the final run off of Guerra to win the game.
The final play told the story for the Coyotes, as the Otter runner barely beat out the throw at first on a potential double play ball that would have ended the inning, and sent the game to the top of the 17th.
Instead, the safe call allowed the Otters to score the winning run from third, which left a sour taste in the Coyotes’ mouths.
Guerra’s teammates have his back despite the rough outing.
“[Guerra] will shut it down next time for sure. We all have full confidence in him,” said Chapman.
The team was disappointed in the final results on Sunday, but they are pushing even harder in practice with the hopes of climbing back on top and winning the conference by season’s end.