Early lead more than enough for masterful Canez in 6-2 win over
Hollister – Any doubts about which team belongs atop the Tri-County Athletic League standings were removed Wednesday. Second-place Palma came to town smarting from its collapse last Friday, eager to exact revenge on the San Benito baseball team.
But the Haybalers methodically out-played their rival in every aspect of the game to emerge with a textbook 6-2 victory.
Staked to a 2-0 lead after San Benito’s first at bat, an advantage that grew to 5-0 by the time he took the mound for the third inning, ‘Balers ace Breyon Canez silenced the Chieftains’ powerful lineup in yet another outstanding performance.
After watching his senior left hander throw 85 pitches in the ‘Balers’ eventual 15-5 win at Palma last week, San Benito head coach Michael Luna had hoped that Canez would throw two or three innings to start the game. But Canez (6-0) retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and kept his pitch count so low that three innings became four, then five, and finally six.
Palma (9-3, 7-2 TCAL) touched Canez for solo runs in the fourth and sixth innings, but the lefty allowed multiple runners on base just once and kept the Chieftains guessing all afternoon.
“I just took it inning by inning – played it batter by batter,” said Canez, who allowed four hits, while striking out four and walking one. “My job was to do good in the beginning of the game … and I just kept going.”
San Benito (15-2, 11-1 TCAL) gave its ace all the runs he would need in the first inning. Right fielder Josh Torrise led off with a walk, advanced to second on a groundout by Canez and scored on Karson Klauer’s first-pitch RBI double off Palma starter Javier Nieto.
‘Balers catcher Travis Ross reached first as he was hit by a pitch, and then an errant pickoff throw by Nieto allowed Klauer to score and Ross to take second. San Benito designated hitter Sky Valenzuela capped the first-inning outburst by singling home Ross to put the ‘Balers up 3-0.
After Canez retired the Chieftains’ 4-5-6 hitters on 10 pitches, San Benito’s hitters picked up right where they left off. Center fielder Kevin Medeiros crushed Nieto’s first pitch of the second for a single down the leftfield line, and then moved to second on Kolton Klauer’s sacrifice. Torrise followed with an RBI single to left to push the ‘Balers’ lead to 4-0.
Palma head coach Reny Enriquez pulled Nieto for reliever Tyler Dinner after a single by Canez, but the Chieftains fell victim to a tough-luck error when Karson Klauer’s pop-fly to center eluded a hard-charging Billy Foy, allowing Torrise to score.
With Canez on the hill, Enriquez knew that a five-run deficit would be tough to overcome.
“Against a kid like that … that’s a formula for a defeat right there,” the Palma head coach said. “(Canez) never beats himself. He knows how to pitch. He knows exactly what to do. He has a plan … and he beat us.”
Or, as Torrise said, “When we put up that many runs with Breyon on the mound … .”
After Palma second baseman Jordan Casas opened the fourth with a sharp single to right, the Chieftains finally got on the board with Alex Marcus’ two-out RBI single. Palma’s only other run came on a solo home run by first baseman Gabe Arcoleo in the sixth. After going 3-for-3 and scoring twice in the teams’ first game, Arcoleo again proved a tough out for San Benito, finishing 2-for-3 in the Chieftains’ losing effort.
Torrise sparked the ‘Balers’ offense by reaching base in each of his first three plate appearances. After walking and singling to score in both of his first two trips to the plate, the San Benito right fielder took first base after Dinner’s pitch for a swinging strike No. 3 got away from catcher Jacob Flores in the fourth. Though Torrise ended up stranded on base, he forced Palma into the unusual position of having to record four outs in the inning.
The ‘Balers showed their offensive depth by spreading their eight hits among eight batters. First baseman Brian Haggett drove in the game’s final run with a two-out double to score Karson Klauer in the sixth.
Sophomore Zach Canez, Breyon’s younger brother, set down the Chieftains in the seventh to lock up the win for the Haybalers.
After San Benito strengthened its grasp on first place in the TCAL, Klauer said the team is hitting on all cylinders.
“We’re right there,” Klauer said. “If we just take care of business … we need to make sure we don’t let down on any teams. If they would’ve won today, it would’ve been right back to square No. 1.”
Before the season began, Luna, the San Benito head coach, looked at this Spring Break juncture as a defining point in seeing how his team stacked up against its league opponents.
“I thought if we would go 9-3, I would’ve been very happy,” Luna said. “Now that we’re at 11-1, I’m ecstatic. What’s happening is, everyone’s stepping up.
“Winning’s contagious. We believe every time we step on the field, we’re going to win.”
With its winning streak now at nine games, San Benito hopes to tack on some non-league victories as it enters play in the Valley Christian Tournament this weekend. The ‘Balers play Santa Cruz at 9:30am on Saturday and return to the field that afternoon to face Wilcox at 3pm. Both games will be played at Wilcox High in Santa Clara.