Peter Creamer (Eastern New Mexico)
Fresh off their second consecutive win, the Neptune Beach Pearl traveled to Redwood City to take on the Nor Cal Longhorns June 6th. The Pearl didn’t come home empty handed as they picked up another win, this time an overpowering 11-1 victory that earned them a third straight W.
The team got off to an early start, earning three runs in the first innings after having two outs. Consistently strong hitting has become a hallmark of the 2012 Pearl, especially in this game. “We swung the bats really well today,” Coach Brant Cummings said.
The hero of the previous game against the San Francisco Seals did not disappoint, as third baseman Bob Cruikshank (University of San Francisco) hit another home run, his second in as many games. “I was up 2-0 in the count,” Cruikshank said. “The catcher went out to meet with the pitcher so he [the pitcher] had to throw a strike and I was just being aggressive again.” His tenacity at the plate paid off as he knocked out a three-run home run in the third. Cruikshank’s attention to timing and his efforts to be less pitch-selective have helped him become a strong hitter, something that the Pearl has taken advantage of in a high-scoring game like this one.
As has been the case so far this season, the pitching staff stepped up again to help lead the way to victory. Right-handed pitcher Jake Popovich (University of San Francisco) threw six solid innings to get the Pearl off to a good start. “I think just being able to locate my fastball really allowed for the ground balls and fly balls to get over to where my position players were. It just made it really easy for the defense behind me to make the plays.” Catcher Peter Creamer (Eastern New Mexico), making his first start of the season, agrees. “Behind the plate you just have to be a leader and just trust what you’ve learned to guide all the guys through the hard times, the good times and just keep on rolling.” Creamer said. The defense backing up the guys on the mound has also been solid.
While the Pearl is only four games into the season, the team is already starting to come together. “We don’t have any “I” guys out there,” right fielder Gary Detwiler (Sonoma State) said. “Everybody in the lineup’s been producing.” Detwiler isn’t the only one who feels that way. “Our whole team’s playing well together,” Creamer said. “We got a great coaching staff and a great group of guys so we’re going to have a really good season. There is no doubt that the team is competitive and excited to play together and in the words of Creamer, “I’m pretty sure we should keep rolling through this whole season.”
The team isn’t going to let a few days off throw their momentum out of rhythm. “Just to keep the momentum going, we have to start it off in the first inning and keep it going,” Popovich said. With a continued sense of focus, Cummings believes that the Pearl has found their recipe for success. “Continue to throw strikes and have competitive at-bats and play great defense,” Cummings said will be key to staying in the zone.