After losing their last two games, the Live Oak Lions varsity baseball squad hoped to rebound in the Sutter Baseball Tournament during spring break. The week-long tournament, which took place at Appeal-Democrat Park in Marysville last week, also included teams from Sutter, Hamilton, Wheatland, Lindhurst, and Las Plumas high schools. During Monday and Tuesday, each team faced off in two scheduled games. The results from those games determined the seeding that was used to setup the match-ups for the rest of the tournament. The top four seeds went on to compete for the championship, while the bottom three seeds played consolation games.
For the Lions, the week did not begin well and it didn’t get any better for the Lions. The Lions lost all four games they played during the tournament, with their closest margin of loss being four runs, which came in their first game against the Sutter Huskies on Monday.
For the majority of the game, the Lions were playing ahead of the Huskies. The Lions jumped out to a first inning lead thanks to a double by Steven Garcia that brought in Martin Robles. Nathan Smith increased the lead for the Lions in the top of the 2nd inning when he scored from third base after Sutter’s catcher committed a costly error. After giving up one run in the bottom of the second inning, the Lions added another run to their lead at the top of the 3rd inning when Garcia singled to bring in Jordan Dears for his second RBI of the game.
However, the Lions would not score after that play. The Huskies were able to make the lead 3-2 in the third inning after Brad Bonnenfant made it around the bases on three errors. After a scoreless fourth inning, the Huskies put the hammer down in the 5th inning, scoring five runs on five walks without a single hit or RBI. Three runs came in on errors, while the other two runs came in on wild pitches. The Huskies sealed their win by holding the Lions scoreless at the top of the 6th inning. The game was then called due to tournament time limitations, resulting in a 7-3 Lions loss in 5 ½ innings.
On Tuesday, the Lions played the Las Plumas Thunderbirds. The Lions’ pitching staff got off to a rocky start, hitting four of the first seven Las Plumas batters in the first inning. Three of those four batters would score in the inning, with two of the batters scoring on an RBI double from Jess Little. After a scoreless second inning, the Thunderbirds added two more runs in the 3rd inning on only one hit.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth inning that the Lions scored in the game. In the first three innings, the Lions had only two hits and had been struck out twice. In the fourth, the Lions came away with two runs on one hit and a walk.
After a scoreless 5th inning, the Thunderbirds collected three more runs on two hits, a walk, and a Lions error in the 6th inning. In the 7th inning, the Thunderbirds added two insurance runs when Jason Ogletree singled to bring in Robert Roenspie and Christian Bean for 2 RBIs. The Lions were unable to make up any ground to the Thunderbirds in their final at-bat and ultimately fell 10-2 to the Thunderbirds.
The two losses automatically put the Lions in the last seed of the tournament and ended any chance for Live Oak to win the tournament. However, the Lions still had to play two consolation games. On Wednesday, they played their first consolation game against the Wheatland Pirates.
The game began as a neck-to-neck battle as both teams scored two runs in the first inning, combining for five hits and three RBIs. However, after holding the Lions scoreless at the top of the second inning, the Pirates took control and never looked back. At the bottom of the second inning, the Pirates brought in six runs on three hits, three walks, and four RBIs. After holding the Lions scoreless for a second consecutive inning, the Pirates put the game away in the third inning, scoring nine runs on five hits, four walks, and five RBIs. Despite scoring one run on two hits and keeping the Pirates scoreless in the 4th inning, the Lions were unable to close the gap to ten runs or less by the middle of the 5th inning and the game was ended due to the mercy rule. Officially, the Lions succumbed to the Pirates by a score of 17-3.
After an off-day on Thursday, the Lions played their final game of the tournament against the Hamilton Braves. The Braves jumped out early and never looked back, scoring five runs in their first series of at-bats, which included four singles, one walk, three RBIs, and batting appearances by all nine Braves starting batters. During the next two innings, the Braves went through twenty-two batters, collecting seven hits, six walks, and thirteen runs.
Meanwhile, the Lions were having trouble producing offense. The Lions managed only one hit and were struck out five times during the first three innings. It wasn’t until the 4th inning that the Lions brought in their first and only run on an RBI single by Robles that brought in Dears. Neither team would score again by the middle of the 5th inning, so the game was called in five innings due to the mercy rule and the Lions ultimately fell 18-1 to the Braves.
Despite a winless tournament, the Lions still have a few more weeks left before the postseason. The Lions’ next place at home against Colusa on Tuesday, April 22.