It was not one of Chase Farrell’s more dominant outings. It certainly wasn’t his cleanest. It was, however, his most important.
And Valencia’s ace navigated seven West Ranch hits in his second complete game shutout of the season, lifting the Vikings to a 3-0 win at home Tuesday and into a winner-take-all game for the Foothill League title later this week.
“You just have to make the next pitch,” Farrell, who struck out three and walked none, said of pitching with men on base. “I mean, you have to get the next pitch over, and you got to, a little bit, hope and pray they don’t hit it in the right spot.”
The Wildcats (19-7 overall, 12-2 in Foothill) were in a spot to clinch an outright title Tuesday with a win. Instead, the two teams that shared the crown in 2016 will play for it Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at West Ranch.
Farrell knew his role was to get the Vikings (22-7, 12-2) to that game. He did it not by overpowering the Wildcats, like he’d done twice already this season, but by making good pitches in bad situations.
West Ranch had at least one man on in every inning but the seventh and had runners at second and third with no outs in the third.
Farrell promptly induced a shallow fly out, a pop out in foul territory and a strikeout to end the threat.
“We didn’t strike out and we got runners on base and we consistently did that,” said West Ranch coach Casey Burrill. “I’m proud of the guys for that. … When we put that pressure on him and got ourselves in good places to be successful, that’s when he made some of his best pitches.”
Valencia made the most of a first-inning rally. Trace Eldridge’s walk to lead off the frame was only the ninth free pass allowed by Cats starter Alex Burge in 50-plus innings this year.
Three batters later, with the bases loaded and one out, Jake Biscailuz drove a pitch off the wall in left field for a two-run double.
“I knew I hit it hard,” the catcher said, “but I didn’t think it was going to go as far as it did.”
Tyler Erne then scored from third when the ball got by West Ranch’s catcher. A 6-4-3 double play ended the inning and sparked five straight scoreless innings from Burge, who allowed six hits, striking out three and walking three.
He was seeking his ninth win of the year. Farrell picked up his eighth. He’s now pitched 21 of the 22 innings Valencia and West Ranch have played against each other this year.
He’s allowed three runs.
“Everything was a little bit of a struggle (today),” Valencia coach Mike Killinger said of Farrell. “But he never gave in. He never centered a ball in the middle of the strike zone where they could hurt him. “
Valencia’s Bobby Orr went 2-for-3.
West Ranch’s Jovan Camacho singled in the third inning, giving him a hit in 21 of the 25 games he’s played in this season.
His twin Ryan nearly scored from third base in the second inning on a wild pitch.
It caromed off the backstop, though, right to Biscailuz, who dove and tagged Ryan out at the plate.