Even with the weather threatening to postpone play, the Stamford Bulldogs were able to continue their winning ways when they defeated the Van Horn Eagles in two games out of a possible three to clinch the Area Championship last Thursday and Friday. Both teams traveled to Sonora on Thursday to play the first of a three game series followed by a second game on Friday. Thursday’s game was all Bulldogs, defeating the Eagles in a 6-0 contest which saw pitcher Ligon West record a no-hitter and 8 strikeouts, only walking one Eagle player in the game. While the Bulldogs were able to hold off the Eagles in game one, the second contest proved to be a true nail biter for the Bulldog Nation.
Wesley Gonzales took the mound to start things off for the Bulldogs, with the Bulldogs picking up where they left off Thursday, keeping Van Horn at bay. The bottom of the first proved that the Eagles would not go down easy, keeping the Bulldogs from bringing any runs across. It was in the bottom of a very confusing second inning where the Bulldogs would finally break the deadlock. With a runner on second, Wesley Gonzales was able to make contact and made a dash towards first. A close play resulted in Gonzales being safe at first, but the ball missed the first baseman’s glove and hit the ground. Gonzales attempted to move to second and was called out at second on another close play. However, the first base umpire ruled the ball dead at first, resulting in a lengthy conference that originally allowed Gonzales to take second and runner Michael Gonzales to score from third before being reversed, putting the two runners at first and third. After everything was settled, the Bulldogs looked to overcome the confusion and were able to bring three runs across, taking a 3-0 lead.
The next inning would prove to be a true test for the Bulldogs as Van Horn stepped up swinging, making contact and getting runners on base. The Bulldogs seemed visibly frustrated, but were able to hold it together and get out of the inning, but not before allowing two runs to make it across and make the score a tight 3-2.
A back-and-forth struggle dominated most of the game, as neither team could get anything going. The Bulldogs failed to hardly get any runners on base, a result of fast gloves from the Eagles while the Eagles could not capitalize and take the lead, the closest being runners on third. It was in the bottom of the sixth that the Bulldogs were finally able to break the slump and show their heart and determination.
The big inning would start off slow, with one Bulldog able to make it on base. A sacrifice bunt from Agassi Hernandez would move the runner to second, which would signal the start of a new life in the Bulldogs. Big swings and major contact not only allowed the Bulldogs to bat around the order, but bring five runs across, bringing the lead to 8-2 before finally being sat down by the Eagles. The Van Horn players showed clear signs of frustration, but the Bulldogs held their composure and continued to show the upmost level of integrity and respect that can be expected from a Stamford Bulldog team as they were able to shut down the Eagles in the top of the seventh to end the game and the series with a final score of 8-2, clinching the Area title.
The Bulldogs were in good spirits after the game, and they prepared to return home after two hard-fought victories. The Bulldogs will face Miles in the Regional Quarter Finals at a date and location that is still to be determined. Congratulations to the Stamford Bulldogs and good luck in the next round!
Stamford 6, Van Horn 0
Stamford 032 010 0--6 3 1
Van Horn 000 000 0--0 0 3
Stamford 8, Van Horn 2
Van Horn 002 000 0--2 6 2
Stamford 030 005 x--8 8 4