Drakes Stay in Playoff Race After Getting Back to .500 on SeasonJul 12, 2023 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Steven Bryla
Marysville pitcher Earl (EJ) Johnson (17) throws a pitch in the Drakes 23-3 victory over Dublin on Saturday, July 8.
MARYSVILLE, CA (MPG) - The Marysville Drakes stayed in the playoff race for the Pecos League Pacific Division standings as they went 3-1 during the week of Sunday, July 2 through Saturday, July 8.
The 3-1 record last week also brought their season record back to .500 on the year as they finished the week with a 17-17 record.
Marysville shot up the scoreboard with 68 runs during the week, including a minimum of 20 in each win. The Drakes beat the Dublin Leprechauns twice, the Vallejo Seaweed on July 7 and their lone loss of the week to Martinez on July 4, 8-5.
Marysville jumped out to early leads over Dublin and Vallejo on July 6 and 7th. The hitting lineup that Drakes manager Bill Rogan has at his disposal is lethal.
Earl (EJ) Johnson controlled the Vallejo bats all game on July 7 as he pitched six strong innings allowing one run, four hits and fanned 10 batters at the plate.
Johnson has missed a lot of time recently due to a broken left hand he suffered a few weeks ago. His hand is in a soft brace to where he has been cleared to pitch.
The Drakes jumped out to an explosive 9-0 lead in the first inning against Vallejo due to the Seaweed starter struggling to find the strike zone by throwing 50 plus pitches in the opening frame.
Marysville slaughtered the ball and made Seaweeds pitcher Jordan Jacobs pay when the strike zone was hit around his four walks and were awarded only two hits.
The Drakes had multiple sharp hits including three monster home runs including one by Marysville Outfielder Logan Weaver that left the park in a hurry.
Examples of the explosive lineup have shown itself in bits and pieces throughout the season so far.
Weaver is ranked as the number one hitter in the league according to the Pecos League website with a hitters' score of 257 as of Sunday, July 9. Weaver’s stats were a .419 batting average, 48 runs batted in (RBI) and 62 hits (22 extra base hits).
Weaver was one of the six Marysville players that were named to the Pecos League All-Star Game on July 9 at Martinez. Utilities Joe Starick, Evan Blum, infielder Declan Peterson, pitchers Evan Nakagawa and Rodrigo Sanchez were also named to the team.
Starick hit .406 on the season with 41 hits, 33 RBIs and has a 12-game hitting streak going into the All-Star break. Blum hit .276 with 33 RBIs and has a five-game hitting streak that he’s taking into the break after getting out of a four-game hitless streak.
Nakagawa and Sanchez have been two of the main starters for the Drakes this season as each has had shining moments on the mound. Sanchez went into the break ranked as the fourth best pitcher in the Pacific division as he posted a 5-1 record in 38 innings of work with striking out 50 and an earned run average of 3.07. In his eight starts on the year, Nakagawa has a 3-1 record in 46 innings on the mound, striking out 43 batters and a 3.91 ERA.
Rogan expressed that although five Marysville players were selected for the game, he told Pecos League commissioner Andrew Dunn that he is adding Peterson to the list.
“He missed out on the last couple of All-Star games nearly and although he is hurt, he still deserves the recognition for all he has done on-and-off the field,” Rogan said.
He added that Peterson is one of the smartest and most dedicated players that has been a part of Rogan’s teams for the last three seasons.
There were two different games for the Pecos League as the Pacific and Mountain divisions held separate games with the Mountain division being played on Sunday, July 16 in Alpine, Texas.
The Pacific Division’s North roster was compiled from Martinez, San Rafael, Marysville and Vallejo as they played the South team composed of players from Bakersfield, Lancaster, Monterey and Dublin.
The Drakes had 16 games remaining in the season as they began play on Tuesday at Martinez. Marysville was a game and a half behind Martinez for fifth place in the Pacific division standings.
Rogan told the Dispatch that every game really mattered and it is playoff time to put up or shut up. In the Drakes final 16 games they had five games on the road.
There is no surprise that most teams in the league struggle on the road and Marysville is a victim of that statistic as well.
“I don’t understand why that is a thing,” Rogan said. “I guess it’s the different environment but we need to win them all.”
The Drakes had five remaining games with teams currently with a worse record than them on July 9, so the games against teams like San Rafael, Martinez and Lancaster are must-win games if they want to get into the fourth spot for playoffs that begin on August 1.
The Drakes had a challenging week ahead of them this week with two games against the Pacific division leaders San Rafael at home on Wednesday and on the road tonight.
Marysville will see Bakersfield for the first time of the season as they host them tomorrow, July 15.