A week had gone by since the Estancia High baseball team saw live pitching. The Eagles returned to the field on Saturday and they almost went hitless.
Their first game back was in the Beach Pit Classic opener at home against Sun Valley Village Christian. With their opponent having won two games during the week to stay in a first-place tie in the Olympic League, the Eagles figured to see someone who hasn't thrown a whole lot for the Crusaders.
They were right, as David Barta had pitched just one inning this season. The southpaw's debut as a starter turned out to be impressive.
Through five innings, Barta worked on a no-hitter, while striking out seven. He never made it back to the mound in the sixth, and Coach Matt Whisenant didn't tell Barta that he hadn't given up a hit.
Heck, Whisenant said he didn't even know. All that mattered to him was that Village Christian was on the way to its fourth straight win.
The Crusaders lost the no-hit bid in the sixth, before they prevailed, 10-1. One hit is all they allowed, with Barta, and relievers Jordan Ingebritson and Chris Davidson combining for 10 strikeouts.
"It was a good day for our guys," said Whisenant, whose team fared much better against Estancia than the previous time the two clubs met.
This is the Crusaders' second straight appearance at the Beach Pit Classic. In their first go-around last year, they opened with the Eagles as well, but lost, 7-3. The team suffered two more setbacks, before finally winning on the last day of the four-game tournament.
This year, Barta helped the Crusaders (11-5) get off to a rousing start in the eight-team tournament. Whisenant said Barta just got his first chance to play for the team on Tuesday, after he sat out the first 30 days because he transferred from Burbank Burroughs.
The offense backed the sophomore right away, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Josh Argarin got on because of an error on a routine grounder, leading to Village Christian taking the lead.
Barta retired the side in order in the first, striking out two batters looking. He punched two more out in the second inning, the last one on a wicked off-speed pitch with runners on first and second base.
Barta wound up walking three and hitting one. On his second walk, catcher Fernando Pizano bailed him out. Pizano picked off the runner at first base to end the third inning.
Tyler Ross, Estancia's starter, wasn't as fortunate during his six-inning stint (five earned runs, nine hits, two strikeouts and one walk) and dropped to 2-3. The freshman hit his third batter in the fourth inning, and then saw Argarin bunt for a single. The bunt was one of three the Crusaders laid down for singles. The other two belonged to Pizano, who went four for four with a run batted in.
Village Christian pushed across a run in the fourth, after Tyler Rolls motored home from second base on a groundball to second base. Zach Shafer tried to turn the double play, tossing the ball to shortstop Nick Torres. Torres found himself with no play at first, and then he tried to get Rolls at the plate. The throw was low.
The young Eagles (6-8) played without starting shortstop Colin Gardner, who Coach Nate Goellrich said won't play defense the rest of the season because of an elbow injury. With the offensive struggles against Barta and the Crusaders adding seven runs in the final three innings, Gardner probably wouldn't have made much of a difference.
Gardner did pinch-hit in the sixth, leading off against Ingebritson, and reached first, even after striking out. Bradley Chandler came in as a pinch-runner for Gardner, and he made it home on the Eagles' first and only hit, a single to left field by Aaron Boaitey.
"We haven't seen quality [pitching in a while]," said Goellrich, whose team finished the first part of Orange Coast League play in fourth place at 4-3. "In the Beach Pit, you're facing a quality team no matter what. We had a week off. I thought we came out just a little flat and we just never really got going, but hopefully we can bounce back.
"Now we [play at] Corona del Mar on Monday [at 3:15 p.m.]. [The Beach Pit Classic] let's us know exactly who can compete at the high level, because we got to play at a high level for the rest of the year if we want to make the playoffs."
Beach Pit Classic
Village Christian 10, Estancia 1
SCORE BY INNINGS
Village 200 121 4 – 10 14 2
Estancia 000 001 0 – 1 1 3
Barta, Ingebritson (6), Davidson (7) and Pizano; Ross, Torres (7) and Nelson. W – Barta, 1-0. L – Ross, 2-3. 2B – Hanckel (VC). 3B – Davidson (VC).