PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles High School boys baseball team played their home opener on Friday afternoon, Feb. 22, and officially kicked off the Jonathan Thornhill era at Barnhart Field. It was certainly an early spring game because it had everything, errors, strikeouts, walks, steals, a triple, a pickle and eventually a walk-off wild pitch victory for the Bearcats, 6-5.
Senior left-hander Lucas Climer got the start for Paso Robles and Mark Martinez got the win. For the first time this season the ’Cats found their offense after having only scored one run through the first three games, as Taylor Bonham, Dylan Castellanos
The Knights put pressure on Climer early singling with their first two at-bats. Both hits were seeing-eye singles of sorts, one popping off the knuckles of the batter and falling just between the third baseman, left fielder and shortstop, and the other dribbling through the infield just past the outstretched arm of defenders. St. Joseph elected for the sacrifice bunt with their next at-bat setting up their clean up man, Mitchell Tackett, who delivered with a two-RBI single giving the St. Joseph the early lead, 2-0.
“I was a little annoyed,” Climer said. “Because I felt like I was throwing good. I did miss spots but I did have a lot of things not go my way but we stayed in it.”
The Bearcats responded with base runners of their own in the home half of the inning but were unable to come up with runs due to some indecision and loss of balance on the base path.
After a flurry of base hits, both pitchers settled in and struck out the next three batters they faced.
St. Joseph tallied two more runs in the third and one more in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead at the halfway point in the game. The Knights big right-hander pitched well striking out nine batters but the Bearcats were able to spray six hits off of him and eventually scored in his final inning of work.
Going into the fifth inning Paso Robles trailed 5-1 and called on Martinez out of the bullpen to hold their opponent to only five runs. Climer allowed five hits and struck out seven in his four innings of work and more than made up for his pitching mistakes when he crushed a triple off the wall after giving the ball to Martinez.
“That triple, I wanted that,” Climer said. “And I think that got everyone going because I was a little down before that and then that got me jumping around and after that, I think things just snowballed into a W.”
Martinez entered the game and dominated not allowing a single hit the rest of the contest while the offense found its groove.
“I mean it is just hitting your spots,” Martinez said. “You can do whatever you want but as long as you hit your spots you are going to be successful.”
The Bearcats scored two runs in the sixth inning and were staring at bases loaded down two with the junior Bonham at the plate. With a 2-1 count, Bonham took the ball straight up the middle and the crowd erupted for what seemed like a walk-off but the winning run stayed at third.
“The coach said that he has a bit of an arm and it wasn’t hit super hard and he was coming up on it,” Climer said describing the play. “If it was any further back or he came up bobbling it I was 100 percent scoring but coach saw him come up with it, I thought I was going 100 percent but then he held me up and I started sliding.”
On the very first pitch of the next at-bat, the Knights’ pitcher threw into the dirt and past his catcher giving Climer enough time to score from third for the walk-off wild pitch victory.
Castellanos finished 2-for-2 with two walks and an RBI, Climber finished 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI, Bonham also went 2-for-4 but with two RBIs and senior Riley Swarthout pinch hit for a clutch single going 1-for-1.
On Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 26, the Bearcats hosted the Greyhounds and again won in extra innings in another sloppy game that saw eight errors between the two teams. Ryan Harvell got the start for Paso Robles on the mound striking out eight and allowing zero earned runs over four innings. The Hounds registered two runs while Harvell was on the bump but did not come around via hits but due to passed balls and errors on defense.
Offensively the Bearcats finished the game with six hits with Maldonado leading the way going 2-for-4. Martinez entered the game for Paso Robles in the fifth inning and just as he did the game before, shut down the offense immediately. Martinez pitched for 3 2/3 innings striking out seven and only giving up two hits.
Castellanos drew a walk in the second at-bat of the ninth inning and scored the eventual winning run when he took off from second base following a Harvel hit up the middle that caused the Hounds to throw the ball to the fence trying to get the out at first.
The Bearcats will try and get another game in this week on Friday against the Arroyo Grande Eagles if weather permits. After hosting two consecutive home games the boys will be on the road for the next three games before coming back home the following Friday against Visalia-Mt. Whitney.