Above, Live Oak shortstop Dave Newton rounds the bases as
music in the park san jose

HOLLISTER
– It was not a typical game from Live Oak pitcher Ryan Muller.
The hot-armed senior had just four strikeouts, but used his defense
to the fullest to propel Live Oak into sole position of first place
in the Tri-County Athletic League with a 5-1 victory over San
Benito.
HOLLISTER – It was not a typical game from Live Oak pitcher Ryan Muller.

The hot-armed senior had just four strikeouts, but used his defense to the fullest to propel Live Oak into sole position of first place in the Tri-County Athletic League with a 5-1 victory over San Benito.

“We got the timely hitting that was able to make the difference, and we had great plays on defense,” said Live Oak coach Mark Cummins. “It is by far our best defense effort of the year.”

Coming into the game, both Live Oak (15-8, 9-2 TCAL) and San Benito (17-6, 8-3 TCAL) had 8-2 records. The win puts the Acorns in good position for a league title. Both Live Oak and Hollister have four games left in the league schedule, playing North Salinas, Salinas, Palma and Gilroy. But they know anything can still happen.

“We’re not celebrating yet,” Cummins said. “We’ve seen that anyone can beat us like we saw in Gilroy. We are not going to take any of the four teams lightly.”

Muller (9-1, 5-0 TCAL) gave up three hits and one walk to the Balers. He was perfect until the fourth inning retiring the first 11 batters before TCAL-leading hitter Eric Diaz launched a ball over the chain fence in left center field.

“We were making good contact,” said Baler coach Neal Andrade. “It wasn’t like we were hitting week ground balls either. They were making the plays when they needed to. It was a good high school game. It was tight all the way through.”

Baler starting pitcher Nathan Rowe followed Diaz’ home run and hit a pitch through the middle for a base hit.

But right fielder Jared Kwock, making the most of his playing time, came up with the defensive highlight of the game for Live Oak to end the inning after Rowe stole second. Kwock went back on a high lazy fly ball that carried to the fence off the bat of Anthony Synegal. As he was still stumbling backward, Kwock put his glove up at the fence and hauled the ball in.

“We came to play today,” Muller said. “Our defense showed up. They were hitting today. I just wanted to stay ahead in the count. If I am around the plate, the defense will make the plays.”

“We had to try to go out there being aggressive,” said Andrade, a former Acorn. “We didn’t want to get behind with his good fast ball.”

Live Oak took a 1-0 lead in the third inning as Bryan Jones, who was 2-for-3, led off with hit up the middle. He was moved over to second with a sacrifice bunt by Scott Hayslip. Jones moved over to third on a hard-hit ball by Andrew Cummins. When Jones saw that the throw from shortstop Josh Badillo was wide at first, he alertly took off from third base to score the unearned run.

Live Oak retook the lead after Baler starter Nathan Rowe (7-3) recorded two quick outs in the sixth inning but started to tire. Muller, who was 2-for-3, is chasing Hollister’s Eric Diaz for the league batting title. He started the rally with a four-pitch walk.

After watching two curve balls fall in for strikes, Sean Nourie, who had hit into the Acorns second double play, hit a sharp ground ball into the hole.

Kyle Bennett reached base for his third time as he knocked Muller in on a ball that second baseman Diaz briefly bobbled the ball. Nourie scored the second run on a wild pitch.

“It felt good to be able to help out,” Nourie, said.

Muller got into a little trouble in the sixth inning from the heart of the lineup. He gave up a two-out hit to Ramos. Muller’s only walk in the game was to Diaz.

After a brief conference at the mound to discuss how to pitch him, Muller kept everything low and didn’t give him a chance to tie the game with a home run with two out. Muller than got Rowe to fly out to left to end the inning.

The Acorns infield of Sean Nourie, Dave Newton, Andrew Cummins and Kyle Bennett gobbled up anything coming their way in the game. Newton, at shortstop, recorded four assists in the first three innings on tough ground balls.

Newton had just one hit in the game, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was the Acorns’ second big hit in the game with two out.

After Live Oak took a 3-1 lead in the previous inning, Newton launched a pitch over the left-field wall with two outs in the seventh inning off of reliever Diaz, who had come in to pitch the inning. That set up a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh by the Acorns for the win.

Live Oak will play visiting North Salinas at noon on Saturday.

Live Oak 001 002 2 – 5 9 0

Hollister 000 100 0 – 1 3 3

Muller and Perez. Rowe, Diaz (7) and Synegal. WP-Muller. LP-Rowe. HR-Newton (LO), Diaz (H). 2H – Muller (LO); Jones, (LO)

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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