Justin Parle should have worn his walking shoes.
The Merced High baseball coach worn out a path from the dugout to the pitching mound in the final two innings as he watched four of his pitchers combine for nine walks and one hit batter in an 11-5 loss to Moreau on Tuesday afternoon in the Fran Oneto/Atwater-Winton Lions Easter Baseball Tournament at Fireman’s Memorial Ballpark.
Parle watched as a strong start from freshman Josh May was wasted by an ineffective bullpen.
“It’s a shame,” said Parle, whose team dropped to 1-1 in the tournament and 8-8 overall. “We had a freshman kid who pitched a pretty good game. That taste that I had in my mouth that I had watching him pitch and us being successful was taken away.”
Never miss a local story.
The Bears started strong, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. Sam Fuerte and Craig Bettis started the rally with back-to-back hits to begin the game. Shawn Heath-Smith, Isidro Mendoza and Jeremy Mendoza all drove in runs during the rally.
“I thought we had some good at-bats early in the game,” Parle said. “We scored four in the first and then we sort of relaxed. We’ve done a good job in the first inning. If the rest or our innings were like the first we might be undefeated. We’ve got to keep our pedal to the metal.”
Meanwhile, May, who earlier this year became the first freshman to start a game on the mound since Eddie Gamboa in 2000, was pitching well.
He gave up only two runs in the first four innings and took a 5-2 lead into the fifth inning.
“He has good enough stuff right now, he doesn’t have to do too much with it,” Parle said. “When he got hit around I had to go out and express how important it is to locate his pitches. He was trying to throw it by the hitters and at this level they’ll catch up.”
May ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth when a leadoff walk turned into a run after Moreau’s David Souto doubled into the ivy.
The Mariners players got an unexpected spark when their coach Ceaser Brown was surprisingly tossed from the game. Brown was politely asking the umpires to go out to the outfield to check to make sure the ball had gone into the ivy.
Earlier Brown had protested the ball should be live after a Merced outfielder had raised his hand — signaling the ball went into the ivy — only to reach his hand into the ivy for the ball.
“That’s the first time in 30 something years — as a player or a coach — that I’ve been ejected from a game,” Brown said. “I didn’t say anything derogatory. I was just fighting for my players.
“Unfortunately it happened. I wasn’t trying to shop up the umpires. I have to much respect for the umpires, too much respect for the game and too much respect for my players to do that.”
Moreau’s players were fired up and went on to score four runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-5 lead. Jason Hughes delivered the big blow with a two-run single.
After sending 10 hitters to the plate in the fifth, the Mariners batted around in the sixth, scoring five more runs to take an 11-5 lead before the game was stopped because of the tournament time limit.
Souto led the Mariners’ 11-hit attack, going 4 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs.