While Yolo Post 77 has made waves with its explosive offense this summer, the local baseball team’s ability to keep opponents from having that same type of success at the plate may end up being even more vital to its hopes of earning a berth in this year’s American Legion state tournament.
At least that was the case during the Post 77′s run through the District 6 playoffs last week, which ended in them snagging the district trophy and a spot in the Area 1 tourney. In three wins — 2-1 over Fair Oaks and 10-3 and 7-4 over Lodi — Yolo’s pitchers emerged as the difference-makers for the team.
Starters like Robert Daugherty and Thomas Galart gave mostly solid performances, and those who came after them — like reliever Jake Miille and closer Carlos Enriquez — were no less effective, pitching plenty of strikes and giving the Post 77 batters the opportunity to put the locals safely ahead.
“Without solid middle relief,” said Yolo head coach Matt Castles, “we’d be in trouble.
“Those guys have done a good job of coming in when the starters struggle, and throwing strikes.”
The performance of the Post 77 pitching staff should be even more crucial in the Area 1 tournament, which has an eight-team, double-elimination format and kicks off on Wednesday. Yolo’s first opponent will be Petaluma, with whom the locals split games this season. According to Castles, Petaluma is particularly challenging for Post 77 because it has a fearsome lineup that is capable of matching the locals run for run.
“We probably got one of the tougher teams (in Petaluma),” he said. “Offensively, they’re stacked. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Castles went on to say that it probably would be easier to knock off Petaluma in the opening game, when they have their best starter Daugherty on the mound, than in a later game, when they might have to rely on one of their less employed pitchers to get the job done.
“Robert’s been a huge part of our success, not only on the mound, but offensively and defensively (as a right fielder),” he said. “He’s been everything and more.”
The combination of Daugherty, Miille and Enriquez could be enough to keep the Petaluma lineup in check, while Yolo hitters like Joe Murray, Adam Castelan, Mike Chavarria, Justin Carlier, Hayden Duer, Daugherty and others go to work.
Regardless of how things turn out for Post 77, it can take solace in the fact that it’s already improved upon last year, when Lodi knocked Yolo out of the District 6 tournament with an 8-0 decision.
— Reach Will Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org