PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Bearcats and the Atascadero Greyhounds have played three times this season but only two of them counted for league games. Now in the Central Section, the Central Coast has gone back to an old style of league play where teams will get a one-game look at their opponents earlier in the season before playing a two-game series against them, meaning with Thursday’s 4-2 win the Hounds swept the season series.
The Hounds followed up their crazy walk-off home run win on Wednesday with another win which gave them their first winning streak of the season. Fresh off his walk-off home run junior Justin Vose toed the mound for Atascadero and had one of his strongest days, only allowing two hits and a single run over five innings while striking out six and walking five.
Pitching all afternoon was key for the Hounds who have struggled defensively this year, Vose handed the ball to Lade in the sixth inning who continued to show he has the stuff to be a reliable closer by not allowing a hit in the final two frames.
“I think we are starting to turn a corner a little bit, you know, the whole chip on your shoulder, have a little attitude and believing instead of hoping,” Atascadero skipper Joe Davis said following the game. “When we talked last time, coach Salas mentioned that sometimes we are hoping things will happen instead of saying we are going to make things happen. So, I think that is part of it, pitching today was grooving so that makes it easy when your defense has been struggling with errors and today and yesterday we have been cleaning those up and when we’re not giving the other team outs we can compete and be successful.”
Bearcats freshman Carson Turnquist got the start and the hard-throwing right-hander was perfect through the first three innings of the game. Paso Robles had their chance to break the game open in the bottom of the second when junior Ethan Breese drew a leadoff walk. After a groundout by Dylan Castellanos, Vose walked the next two batters in Turnquist and Kolby Gidcum loading up the bases for the Bearcats with only one out.
Seth Maldonado recorded an RBI on a groundout to third base in the next at-bat but Turnquist would be stranded at third and Gidcum at second as Lucas Climer popped out to end the inning with only one run.
Like Paso Robles, the Hounds got one good chance to put runs on the board but were able to capitalize which was ultimately the difference in the game and the series. Atascadero scored all four of their runs in the top of the fourth inning by a rally that was started by a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases up. The Atascadero hitters were aggressive in the box after listening to Coach Davis’ message about going after the pitch that you want regardless of when it comes. Taylor Hedger took the first pitch he saw to right field to get the run started, Vose walked on four pitches and Lade jumped on the second pitch he saw cranking a line drive into right. A strikeout in the next at-bat meant Atascadero was down to their final out in the inning and in danger of wasting a bases-loaded opportunity but senior Cade VanAllen went after the first pitch Turnquist threw him dropping a two RBI double into left field.
“I mean, bases loaded, come up there, hack the ball, put it in play and try to get some runs somehow,” VanAllen said of his approach to the at-bat.
Two more singles by Gavin Martinez and Colby Stokes gave Atascadero the 4-1 lead and they would hold onto it taking home their fourth win of the season but more importantly to them a win over Paso Robles.
“I have just felt super hyped up because it’s Paso,” Vose said. “And all the talk between us and all the rivalry stuff and it has been super fun these past few days and a lot of adrenaline between the two teams.”
The back-to-back wins had spirits high among everyone in orange. “This means a lot, I mean this is probably our biggest winning streak of the year,” Cade VanAllen said through a chuckle. “It’s Paso, it’s a rivalry game, we needed these two wins in league, it’s a league game so it's a big thing.”
Atascadero (3-5) and Paso Robles (2-4) are now in fourth and fifth place, respectively, in the Mountain League. This week, the Bearcats face the Arroyo Grande Eagles who are ranked No. 6 in Division 2 of the Central Section and current Mountain League leader, tied with Righetti and San Luis Obispo at (5-1).