Twenty-two Santa Maria Reds batters faced Santa Maria Packers right-hander Isaac Baez Friday night. Seven of them finished their plate appearances without striking out.
Smoothly mixing his pitches, Baez fanned 15 in his six innings of work. The Packers (3-4-1) beat the Reds 4-2 at Elks Field, spoiling the Reds' season opener and 10th anniversary.
"I've had other appearances this summer. This was my best," said Baez, who just finished his freshman year of pitching for Hancock College after a stellar career at St. Joseph High School.
"I was just working the fastball, painting the corners inside and out. When I got to 0-2, I'd work in the off-speed pitch."
Nate Alcantar finished up with three innings of one-hit ball for the Packers, who mustered enough offense to win. Baez gave up one hit, a first-inning Izzy Hernandez single with two outs.
Hernandez was Baez's Hancock teammate last season.
Ryan Clayton hit a two-out single in the fourth for the Packers and went to third when Reds left fielder Dru Sowell mis-played the ball for a two-base error. Clayton came home on a Danny Atchison wild pitch.
Clayton's hit was the Packers' first off Atchison.
The Packers scored in the fifth when Jacob Camarena singled home Travis Welker.' The Camarena single was the Packers' only RBI hit of the night.
In the sixth, Clayton scored again on a wild pitch, this time by Reds reliever Connor Adams. Evan Kling gave the Packers a 4-2 lead with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
That sac fly, with the bases loaded and no outs, would have been a lot more but
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Reds right fielder Tyler Zafiris robbed Kling of an extra-base hit, making the catch with his back to the plate after a long run.
The Reds' seventh-inning runs were unearned. Zafiris tripled home catcher Peter Rodriguez, who reached base on an error. Pinch hitter Joseph Valdez drove in Zafiris with a sacrifice fly.
Alcantar sealed the deal by setting down the next seven Reds hitters. He retired the Reds in order in the eighth and ninth.
"Baez was on top of his game, and we had just enough offense to win," said Packers manager Brandon Mitchell.
"Our pitching coach, Walker Armstrong, just arrived from Cal State Northridge. He gets a lot of credit," for the Packers' performances by Baez and Alcantar.
Armstrong is a former Hancock pitcher.
Characteristically, the Packers' roster consists of current, upcoming or future Hancock players, who just finished their time with the team.
During a brief pre-game ceremony, Reds general manager Randy Musumeci recognized various Reds staff members, and community members who had assisted the team.
Before the game, home plate umpire Michael Kon received the first Hank Muro Sportsmanship Award, and Dave Garcia of Nipomo-based Liuna Local 220 threw out the first pitch.
The Reds were hoping to unveil a new Elks Field scoreboard, but Reds personnel said that was delayed.
The Reds will host the Packers at 6 p.m. Saturday night.