It’s pretty rare that a pitcher is grateful for two errors his infielders make. But that’s just what happened in Sonoma Academy’s 3-0 victory Tuesday night over visiting Rincon Valley Christian – keeping intact a historic team streak of five consecutive no-hitters.
Going into the NCL II game at Doyle Park, Sonoma Academy pitchers had put together four no-hitters, including a perfect game, going back to April 7. That feat, according to the record-keeping site CalHi sports, has never been done.
Tuesday’s bid for a fifth came with some controversy, though. After 5⅔ innings without an Eagles hit, two infield grounders that Coyotes fielders couldn’t handle might have broken the streak.
But the official scorekeeper, provided by Sonoma Academy, ruled both errors, not clean hits.
The first, a hard-hit, ground-hugging roller by second baseman Keenan Aristizabal, sneaked under Coyotes shortstop Dan Brown as he lifted his glove anticipating a hop.
The next batter, Rincon Valley pitcher Nick Giuseponi, pulled an outside pitch to third baseman Ethan Jones. Jones charged the ball and awkwardly slipped toward the mound as he reached out to try to bare-hand the ball to his right.
To some it appeared the ball caromed off the grass — in which case the ruling likely would have been a hit, ending the streak. But Jones said the ball nicked off his throwing hand.
Immediately after the game, both coaches seemed ambivalent about whether the plays were errors or hits. They agreed there was some room for debate.
Rincon Valley’s Todd Silvashy acknowledged that the official home team, in this case Sonoma Academy, keeps the book and might be a bit more forgiving on questionable calls: “It’s their field and they’re on a streak.”
Sonoma Academy coach Dave Cox said he felt both were errors, but dissected the squibber play with others afterward.
Later, after having watched video of it, he was adamant: “There is no way that is not an error. It was more of an error than when I first saw it.”
“He should have just used his glove,” Cox said. “If he caught it, he’s got the arm to throw him out.”
Either way, Coyotes ace Dylan De La Montanya, the winning pitcher, was his steady self. “The one was kinda iffy. But I’m happy with them being errors,” he said, smiling.
De La Montanya, who has had a hand in four of the five combined no-nos, looked strong as he kept Rincon Valley hitless into the sixth.
A senior who will play at Sonoma State next year, he struck out 12 of the first 18 Eagles he faced, seven of them on called third strikes.
De La Montanya struck out the side in the third and fourth innings, while facing just three batters over the minimum through the fifth. Those three baserunners came on a first-inning walk and hit basemen in the third and fourth.
In the sixth, De La Montanya, who made the all-state baseball team and was a first-team All-Empire pick by The Press Democrat last year, retired the first two batters before the two debatable grounders came.
The no-hit streak began two weeks ago, on April 7, when the Coyotes downed Technology High, 13-0, in a five-inning game. De La Montanya, Byron Spars and Jordan Salmonsen combined for the mercy-rule-shortened game.