The Gridley junior baseball team didn't make it easy on themselves this weekend, but in the game of baseball you aren't graded on style, but simply on scoring more runs than the other team. The Gridley boys did just that Saturday and Sunday, downing both the District 48 representative (Inter-Mountain) 4-3 and the District 1 champs (Corning) 14-13to advance to the championship round of the Section 2 tournament.
In Gridley's opening round win against Inter-Mountain, pitching dominated the action throughout as both teams struggled against the solid pitching provided by both squads. Gridley starter Knipe ran into trouble in the second inning, walking the first two batters, and Springs was brought into the game to pitch. Spring came through for Gridley, sandwiching a ground ball to first around two strikeouts to end the Intermountain threat.
Gridley broke through first scoring two runs in the bottom of the third inning when Inter-mountains pitching began to falter. With no pitcher throwing more than 20 pitches at a time to ensure their pitchers would be able to throw the following game, the Inter-Mountain coaching staff chose to run out a variety of pitchers, using their 20 pitches and then turning to another pitcher for 20 more.
The strategy back-fired however when lead-off walks to Tyler Woolery and Austin Knipe put runners on first and second for Gridley. Quinn Springs followed with a high-chopping ball over the head of the third baseman loading the bases for Gridley with no outs. Ernesto Caudillo was hit by a pitch to drive in Woolery, and Austin Wood was walked to bring home Knipe.
Gridley looked to be ready to break the game wide open, but another Inter-Mountain pitcher came into the game and struck out the next three Gridley hitters to thwart the Gridley uprising, but Gridley had managed to grab the lead 2-0.
Intermountain answered right back with two runs in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, an Inter-Mountain hitter connected on a deep drive to center which center-fielder Caudillo couldn't quite get in spite of his best efforts. While Caudillo was still on the ground, left fielder Woolery raced over to center, picked up the ball, and made a nice relay to shortstop Sammy Cota. Cota never hesitated throwing a strike from short centerfield on the fly to Wood who put the tag on the runner as he slid into home. The play was close, but the umpire called the runner out, and despite the cries of protest from the Intermountain fans and coaches, Gridley left the field tied 2-2. To read the rest of this story pick up a 7/18/12 edition of The gridley Herald.