Additional reporting by Sannidhi Menon and Himani Yalamaddi
Three consecutive games. Three consecutive wins. Last week, the MVHS baseball team played two games against Fremont HS and one non-league game against Mission San Jose HS. See below for two out of the three victories the Matadors obtained.
March 21, MVHS vs. FHS
After a scoreless first few innings, MVHS was able to build momentum in the latter half of the game and win with a final score of 5-0. With FHS unable to score any runs in the top of the first inning MVHS took the lead when a hit down the line by senior Sathya Kumaraguru allowed junior Jason Koontz, who was walked and had stolen second, to score in the bottom of the first inning. FHS batters had little success, having had two consecutive 1-2-3 innings (where no batter gets on base).
In the bottom of the third, junior Ryan Hada was able to hit a double into center field, and Kumaraguru followed up with a flyball to bring Hada home and give MVHS a 2-0 lead.
Kumaraguru explained that in order to focus on hitting that double, he had to tune out his surroundings, including the encouraging cheers coming from the dugout. This helped him to come through during this key moment that brought in another run.
“Baseball is a game where everyone talks a lot,” Kumaraguru said. “It’s kind of annoying, honestly, because you lose your focus and I think it’s important to zone everything out and focus on just the ball.”
MVHS prevented FHS from advancing past second base for the next three innings with good fielding and multiple strikeouts by pitcher and senior Christopher Anderson. However, FHS matched their efforts, and the Matadors were also unable to score any runs during those innings.
It was not until the bottom of the sixth inning that MVHS began to pick up momentum. One after the other runner loaded the bases. Junior Jake Kokeny hit a ground ball, and Junior Tommy Lindstrom was walked. Anderson hit a successful bunt. The tension was evident on the field as senior Nathan Hui went up to bat. The bleachers roared as a line drive into right field brought home Kokeny. But it was not over yet: the bases remained loaded. With junior Jeffery Tian coming in as a pinch runner for Lindstrom, senior Anthony Moll continued the pattern by hitting a line drive down left field and widening the score gap to 4-0. The momentum continued as Koontz hit a ground ball, allowing Anderson to score another run and bringing the score to 5-0. However, the inning was cut short when Hui was tagged out at home followed by an inning ending double play.
Anderson explained that MVHS’ ability to keep the bases constantly loaded put pressure on the other team’s batters.
“When one guy gets on base, it motivates the next person up to also get on base [and] it might apply more pressure,” Anderson said.
Kumaraguru also thought that as the Matadors applied more pressure on the Firebirds with the bases loaded, FHS began to lose motivation which further contributed to the Matadors’ success.
Although FHS began to pick up momentum in the top of the seventh inning with three consecutive ground balls putting a runner on third, the last batter struck out, ending the game with the Firebirds unable to score a single run.
Koontz believes that this game helped the Matadors gain confidence, as they did not have a good opening to the league season last year. However, with this game giving them a 3-1 league record, Koontz thinks they are off to a better start. He explained that in order to earn future successes, they must continue to do what they did during this game, only better.
“Keep hitting the ball. Keep getting good contact. Keep working the pitcher. Keep working the counts,” Koontz said.
March 23, MVHS vs. MSJHS
After their second win against FHS on March 22, the Matadors gave the starters a break and put in many of their bench players for a non-league game against MSJHS. The bench players proved themselves by taking the game, 6-2.
MVHS started off the inning strong, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning. The crowd looked in awe as the scoring started with a ground rule double by Tian. After stealing third base, he was able to score via a popup by Moll. It had been less than 15 minutes since the game had started. Third in the lineup, senior Joshua Huang got to first base after being walked and advanced to second by a single by junior Christian Garber. A ground ball by junior Nikhil Venkhat brought home Huang, resulting in a 2-0 advantage for MVHS.
Tian explained how the team had wanted to get an early lead in the game to demotivate the opposing team, and believes they were able to succeed by scoring those two runs. He said he was excited when he had hit the ground rule double.
“It felt really good. Off the bat I thought it was over, but it wasn’t, so I couldn’t stop smiling,” Tian said. “It was a really happy moment, probably the furthest I ever hit the ball.”
Despite an error at first base allowing a batter to advance to second base in the top of the second inning, no runs were scored by MSJHS in that inning.
Senior Ginga Sato’s first hit of the season was a single into center field, and he subsequently stole second and third base while junior Sam Yang was at bat during the bottom of the second inning. A hit by Moll brought Sato home, his first run of the season.
Sato believes that part of the reason for their success at scoring so many runs during the first two innings was because it was the bench players who were out on the field.
“Today, most of the starters were usually benchwarmers, and they all wanted to have an opportunity [to play] and they got it,” Sato said. “They were desperate to get something done, and that got into a good cycle.”
The bottom of the second inning ended with another run, giving the Matadors a four run lead. MSJHS was unable to get past second base in the third inning, and it was once again MVHS’ turn to bat. With a flyball single into left field by Venkat and junior Josh Ploshay being walked, MVHS quickly occupied first and second base with no outs in the bottom of the the third. A line drive into left field by junior John Logie brought the score to 5-0. It seemed as though the game would end with another blowout by the Matadors.
Although MSJHS had little success against the starting pitcher, Huang, in the first four innings, MSJHS began to strike back in the fifth inning. Relief pitcher Kumaraguru allowed two walks after coming in for Huang, but began to find his rhythm and struck out the next batter. However, a line drive deep into left field brought home both runners, bringing the score to 5-2.
While the Matadors could not score any runs during the bottom of the fifth inning, MSJHS was also unable to score, failing to keep their momentum from the top of the sixth inning. The Matadors were able to score one more run during their half of the sixth inning. Yang led off with a single and a steal and was able to score on a ground ball from Moll, widening the score gap to 6-2.
With MSJHS unable to score any runs in the top of the 7th inning, the Matadors won their third game in three days. Huang described this game as less stressful compared to the other games this week.
“This is [the] third game in three days, so I think we were just trying to take it easy and have fun and win,” Huang said. “For me, since I was pitching, I just wanted to throw strikes.”
However, although this was only a non-league game, Huang explained that it was still important in the long run.
“We played a lot of [substitutes] today, but it was still a must-win game because it counted into CCS standings, so we had to win this game,” Huang said.
The team’s next home game will be on April 3 against Lynbrook HS at 4:00 p.m.