By Mike Camunas
NEW TAMPA — Wharton didn’t need much, while Alonso could’ve used more.
The Wildcats (3-0) eked out a 3-2 rainy win over the Ravens (0-3) on Tuesday evening in a game that had plenty of chances to be broken wide open, as the teams combined to strand 17 runners on base.
“We’re a gritty team this year,” Wharton senior second baseman Grady Maguire said. “We’ve got a lot of dudes who want to win, so it’s going to be fun — getting wins like this is going to be fun.”
And it should be fun for Maguire, who easily made the Play of the Game: a diving stop to his right to rob Alonso’s Renzo Gonzalez driving in the tying run of the speedy Fred Myles who was standing on second.
“That one is on the highlight reel,” Maguire added with a smile.
“Great play — saved the run,” Wildcats third baseman Steven Hotinski said.
“Grady is a great player, defensively and offensively,” Wharton starting pitcher Carson Caso said. “I can’t think of a better second baseman, so I’m glad he’s mine.”
As Caso made his slightly-delayed start due to rain that held back warmups for both teams, and the Ravens jumped out the gate first, scoring a quick first run thanks to Myles’ leadoff single, reaching third on an errant throwback to first and an RBI by Sehjin Daley.
In the third, Hotinski would score on an RBI double by Frank Micallef, who would also advance to third on the throw. Micallef was then driven in as the go-ahead run by Colton Calleja.
“The rain wasn’t my friend there in the beginning and I can’t choose the weather,” Caso said, “so I have to pitch the way I know I can and to contact so my defense can have my back.”
“We were fighting — trying to get the ball in play and score runs,” Hotinski added. “We know we can put runs on the board.”
Wharton added its third run in the fourth as a groundball by Hotinski was followed by an errant throw to first, which allowed Maguire to score from third.
The Ravens would get one more back thanks to a Ty Bitman sac fly that scored pinch-runner Isiah Myles.
However, Wildcats relief pitchers Riley Glover and Jackson Perkins would combine to throw two innings, including a two-pitch, one-out save by Perkins. Glover pitched the other 1 2/3 innings, including inducing the groundball for Maguire’s spectacular play.
As for Alonso, well, it’s been a rough start to the 2020 season for the Ravens, which has now lost three to open the season, all by just one run. In three games, Alonso has been outscored just 7-4 after Tuesday, including the Ravens having a pair of 2-1 losses last week.
None other than (Class 8A) defending state champs, Plant City, and then two days later to (Class 8A) state runner up Strawberry Crest in eight innings.
“We’ve got to score more than two runs in two games — we’ve got to outscore somebody by a run instead,” Ravens coach Landy Faedo said. “We’re right there — we’re in the games, so what else can we do? All we can do is to ask that (the players) come out and play with heart, don’t play with doubt, have a little edge to it, and if they come out and do that, then I’m happy — sure, I want them to win game because they work hard, but we just have to execute when its time.”
– Mike Camunas is a longtime veteran journalist who is always seeking true stories, trained under J. Jonah Jameson and takes better photos of Spider-Man than Peter Parker. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeCamunas
WHARTON 3, ALONSO 2
A 100|001|0 – |2|4|4
W 002|100|0 – |3|5|1
W – Caso (2-0); L – Drumheller (0-1); S – Perkins.
2B – Bitman, Myles (A); Micallef (W). Records – A (0-3); W (3-0).