The Credo Gryphon crushed the Point Arena Pirates, 7-0, Mon., May 20 to advance into the finals of the NCS Division 6 Playoffs.
The victory was thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Gryphon’s relief pitcher, Claude Pepe, who threw a no-hitter over seven innings. His work, combined with the assistance of the rest of the Gryphon defensive line up, left few openings for the Pirates’ offense to exploit—yet few doesn’t mean ‘none’. Pepe might have kept the majority of the Pirates’ batters off the bases, but he wasn’t able to shut them out completely.
Walks, errors and good ol’ fashioned accidental beanballs opened a few gaps for the Pirates, especially as the game wore on and Pepe ran low on steam. Pitching seven full innings is no mean feat.
Yet whenever Pepe stumbled, his team was there to pick up the slack.
“I just thought of my favorite NBA player, Russell Westbrook, and his mentality going into games—just knowing that whatever the other team does it’s not going to be me. I’m the only one that can beat myself,” Pepe said.
The Gryphon built its lead right from the first inning.
Gryphon Tao Von-Elgg started the game off right with a hit over the head of the Pirates’ second baseman and into the outfield. The Pirates’ midfielder moved forward to catch, but he failed to gain full control and dropped the ball. Von-Elgg then stole second—a somewhat unnecessary move as the Pirates walked his teammate on the very next pitch. A hit-by-pitch of Gryphon Tanner Rozema moved Von-Elgg to the third.
And that’s where Von-Elgg’s push stalled. The Pirates’ pitcher, Jared Sundstrom, grew wise to the Gryphon’s shenanigans and kept his eye firmly on first, keeping Rozema from stealing second. But that opened a door for Von-Elgg. He edged forward and the moment the ball left Sundstrom’s hand he made for home.
The Pirates’ catcher noticed him mid-run, but the glance cost. He dropped the ball just as Von-Elgg slid into home, seizing for the Gryphon its first run of the game.
“We talk about courage and hard work bringing success and they showed that all night. The score doesn’t matter to me much,” Gryphon head coach, John Aliotti, said. “Our energy, our effort and our commitment was there—that’s why I feel confident going into Saturday’s game.”
After Von-Elgg’s steal, though, the Gryphon offense stalled. The Pirates kept them to one run all the way up until the third inning.
The Gryphon’s break finally arrived when their Cole Gregory scored a clean hit that saw the ball sail all the way into the outfield. An overthrow at first let Gregory move to second. He made for home when Pepe hit a single.
It all happened in such a short span of time that the Pirates couldn’t re-adjust. By the end of the inning the Gryphon managed to tack on three additional points on their minimal lead, widening the gap between them and their opponent.
“Somebody’s got to win—that’s baseball. It happens,” Pirates’ coach, Jose Oropeza, said.
“We just couldn’t put it together. They made mistakes, we made mistakes, but we couldn’t capitalize.”
The Credo Gryphon now moved into the finals. If Credo pulls out a win, it will be their first NCS Championship title since the team got its start five short years ago. It’s a big deal, as most of the team’s seniors are only one generation removed from its founding. They’ll face off against either South Fork or San Francisco Waldorf, outcome depending, on Sat., May 25.