Sonny, Raiders’ defense shut down Patriot to advance to second round
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
Last year, Sonora pitcher Evan Sonny missed the playoffs after a four-day hospital visit forced an early end to his junior season.
The now senior pitcher admitted he was a little anxious heading into his first varsity playoff start on Thursday afternoon, but settled midway through the game and delivered a complete game shutout as the Raiders topped Patriot 2-0 at home in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs.
Sonny allowed two hits, the second coming with two outs in the third inning. With help from his defense, he retired the last 12 Warriors he faced.
“I think I tried to overthrow a little bit early, but once I got my off-speed stuff working, everything came into play,” Sonny said. “I was anxious, I was ready to get out there. Our coach always says good teams find a way to win even when they’re off and I feel that’s what we did today, we found a way to win.”
In all, Sonny allowed three baserunners, two of which were thrown out at second base. Sonny faced 22 total batters, one more than the minimum for a seven-inning game.
Patriot (12-15) had only one runner in scoring position as Justin Thomas was allowed second base after a throwing error during a double-play attempt in the first inning.
Sonora’s defense was key, the infield recorded 17 outs and Sonny struck out four batters. Aside from one hit in the first inning, a chopper over third-baseman JP Sarro, none of Patriot’s swings reached the outfield.
“We tell the guys if you get to this point of the year that you have to make plays,” said Pat Tellers, Sonora head coach. “We made some plays today, Gavin [Blodgett] made some big plays at shortstop. We also challenged them and we were able to take advantage of a couple mistakes.”
However, as great as Sonora’s pitching and defense were on the afternoon, the bats struggled. Sonora recorded just two base hits, both in the fourth inning.
Despite an erratic performance by Warriors’ starting pitcher Andrew Martinez, Sonora’s willingness to chase pitches helped his cause early on.
Sonora (21-6-1) was held without a hit until Gavin Blodgett singled to lead off the fourth inning. Two batters later, Jake Rosander doubled to deep left-center field to put runners on second and third base.
Justin Mellano plated the Raiders’ first run with a sacrifice fly to right field in the fourth inning. Blodgett scored from third base as the throw sailed wide right of the plate.
“We didn’t execute well offensively, we didn’t get bunts down well today,” Tellers said. “I liked the way we drove the ball, but they must have had something on us because their outfield was playing deep. They tracked them down and made them fly-ball outs.”
Patriot shortstop Luis Perez bobbled a ground ball by Blodgett in the fifth inning, allowing Sonny to score and give the Raiders a 2-0 lead.
Sonny and the defense took care of the rest as Sonora cruised into the second round and extended their current win streak to 16 games.
The Raiders will face Century in the second round. Century, the champion of the Orange League, defeated Monrovia 2-0 on Thursday afternoon. A coin flip will determine the site of the game.
“It’s about making plays and we did, that’s why we’re continuing,” Tellers said. “It doesn’t matter who you play at this time, they’re all good, you never know what you’re going to run into. We just have to prepare for our next opponent and we get to do that, starting tomorrow or tonight.”