The Cavs felt confident, despite having an overall record of 1-2, going into their doubleheader against the Faith Christian Lions on April 12.
Of course, after the hour-long drive to Yuba City, the boys were in Lion territory, facing a home-field-advantaged Faith Christian.
So despite a valiant effort, the Cavs fell 6-5 in the first game and 11-9, in extra innings, in the second.
While no player complained about the advantages the Lions had, the Cavs’ disadvantages were obvious.
Driving to Yuba meant the players were idle for over an hour, making it hard to get into a rhythm. Combine that with the stands being filled with almost exclusively Lions’ fans, and you’re already fighting an uphill battle as a player.
Before the game, senior pitcher Ben Felix noted that playing a doubleheader is a double-edged sword.
“If we perform well the first game, we will go into the second with confidence,” Felix said.
“But if we (don’t win the first game), our heads won’t be in the right place for the second.”
And that seemed to be just the case.
The game came down to the wire in the top of the seventh inning, when the Cavs crawled back from a three-run deficit.
With two outs and junior Emil Erickson on first, the Cavs’ last hope was freshman Nate Jakobs.
Jakobs took the first pitch and hit a hard ground ball to center field, bringing Erickson home and cutting the Lions’ lead to 4-6.
But it wasn’t going to be easy for the Cavs. With Felix at the plate with a 2-1 count, Jakobs was looking to steal second. As soon as Lions’ senior pitcher Caleb Crist wound up to pitch, Jakobs took off and stole second base.
Immediately after, Jakobs advanced to third on a passed ball. And now with a full count, Felix was facing a do-or-die scenario. But Crist walked him!
Now it was time for Jakobs’s brother, junior Zane, to step up to the plate.
On the first pitch, Crist threw a wild pitch, allowing Nate to run home and cut the score to 5-6.
And after two balls, Crist threw another wild pitch, allowing Felix to take second.
But Crist knew he couldn’t allow the Cavs a chance to tie up the game and threw two strikes in a row. After a ball, Zane was facing a full count, almost identical to the situation Felix was in minutes ago.
This time Crist had learned his lesson. This pitch was inside the batter’s box, and Zane struck out swinging.
Despite this, the Cavs couldn’t hang their heads. They had to prepare for a rematch against the Lions minutes later.
This is where the psychological aspect Felix mentioned comes into play.
Coming back from a three-run deficit and almost tying up the game just to fall short has a serious effect on an athlete’s psyche. Nevertheless, the Cavs had to lace up for the ensuing seven innings.
(Read the recap for the second game.)
—By Jake Longoria