Toad hitters: 'Revenge is sweet'
By Jesse Phelps
The No. 1-ranked Thacher Toad
baseball team faced one of its stiffest challenges of the year
on Thursday when Grace Brethren visited town in a rematch of
last year's CIF Division VI playoff final. This time the Toads,
who lost that game, 3-1, turned the tables and shut out the Lancers,
Graham Douds was the man for the Toads, pitching six scoreless
innings and striking out eight for the win. Douds also came up
with the big hit, a two-run, first-inning single off freshman
Lancer hurler Grady Ihnat.
"Redemption," said Douds, after the game. "I wanted
this one more. I was thinking about this all summer. I have to
give credit to my catcher and my seniors on my team. I couldn't
do it without them."
For a while, it looked like he'd have to. Three Thacher players
showed up as the game was about to begin, having been delayed
by AP tests, scheduled mere hours before the first pitch.
But Owili Eison was there in time to lead off the order, collect
a single, steal a base and score the first run. Charlie Munzig
was there in time to bat third, collect a single, steal a base
and score the second run. And Douds was there to make sure he
drove them home.
It was a fortunate thing for the Toads that they got to Ihnat
early. By the end of the first, the freshman's curve started
working and the rest of the afternoon, it was tough for the Thacher
batters to make contact. Ihnat, whose team has moved up a division
since Thacher and the Lancers met last year, matched Douds with
eight strikeouts, recording at least one each inning. It wasn't
enough for the Lancers (5-12-1, 0-4-1), who lost seven starters
from last year's club and couldn't generate any offense against
the Thacher ace.
Like Ihnat, Douds gave up only three hits on the afternoon. The
difference was defense. In the first inning, Ihnat watched as
the Toads stole four bases, and he contributed to his own downfall
with two wild pitches. Thus, despite striking out twice in the
inning, the Toads put together three runs on three singles and
two walks, all of it started by Eison.
"Coach says when I get that I'm scoring every time and that's
the kind of mentality that I have," Eison said. "I
can get big jumps and use my feet to my advantage. My teammates,
they're picking up the signs and helping me stay on base, not
get picked off. I give it all to them today. Revenge from last
year, it's sweet."
With the win, the Toads moved to 11-0 on the year. Perhaps still
riding that high, in the ensuing game at Malibu, they took their
first loss of the season.
The Sharks won 14-6, notching 15 hits to Thacher's eight and
committing three errors to Thacher's four. Charlie Munzig (3-1)
took his first loss of the year, but stayed on the mound for
all seven innings.
Dillon Valadez went four for four with three RBIs on the day,
providing what Thacher coach Rich Mazzola called "our most
powerful offensive punch" against a "great team."
"Not a lot went our way," said Mazzola. "We made
four errors out there, which didn't help."
Still, despite the loss, Mazzola said he designed the end of
the schedule extra tough for a reason. "Stiff competition,"
he said. "That's what we need in preparation for the playoffs."
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
CHARLIE MUNZIG swings at and misses one of Lancer Grady Ihnat's
curveballs. Against Malibu, Munzig suffered his first loss from
the mound when the Sharks battered the Toads, 14-6.