By Jeremy Balan
SAN BRUNO – Lick-Wilmerding starting pitcher Nick Corson has thrown 15 innings against University in May and the Red Devils have yet to figure him out.
Seven of those innings came in Lick’s 6-0 win over University in the Bay Counties League West semifinals on Wednesday at Skyline College.
The senior right-hander allowed just two hits and two walks, struck out three and only allowed one runner past first base in his complete-game shutout.
“He threw an excellent game,” said Lick head coach Manny Granillo. “He’s not overpowering, but he keeps the ball down and just throws strikes. If we play good defensively behind him, we’re in good shape.”
Corson’s fastball may lack velocity, but consistently exhibited a sharp downward break and forced the Red Devils to ground out 10 times.
“That’s just my fastball. I keep it slow,” Corson said jokingly, when asked if he had a changeup. “I was just pitching low and outside, and getting ground balls. The defense was making plays. That’s all I can ask for.”
Corson also threw an eight-inning complete game against the Red Devils on May 1, when he allowed only a single unearned run in an 2-1 extra-inning win.
“We have had a tough time hitting this guy,” said University head coach Gary Johnson. “In 15 innings he’s pitched against us, we’ve got one run. We got two hits today, and you cannot win baseball games that way.”
While the Red Devils (8-12) struggled to get baserunners on, the Tigers (13-10) had no such issues.
Lick had baserunners in every inning, collected five hits and worked eight walks, and put constant pressure on the University defense.
“I believe in running,” Granillo said. “I always have and I want to make sure to keep the infielders moving, so that if a ball is hit, it might get through.”
The Tigers stole five bases and attempted several hit-and-runs, but they also got timely hits. The first Lick run came on a RBI single from Lucas Howard in the first inning and senior catcher Drew Forrest pushed the lead to 4-0 with two-out, two-RBI double deep into the right-field gap in the fourth.
The final two runs scored on a University error in the fifth inning and forced sophomore starting pitcher John O’Malley out of the game.
“There were a couple of physical mistakes and a couple of mental mistakes, and that has been the story of this baseball team for the past six weeks,” Johnson said. “We can’t seem to figure out a way to execute properly.”
The Tigers advance to face top-seeded Stuart Hall in the league championship game on Friday, but the loss ends what has been an epic slide for University.
The Red Devils began the season 7-0 overall and 3-0 in league play, then went 1-12 in the final 13 games of the season.
“Some guys started to relax and assumed we would win every game like we did the first seven,” Johnson said. “Along the way, some of them forgot that it takes a lot of hard work to maintain that high level of play. They didn’t understand that they gotta show up, not just on game day. In order to be a champion, you have to practice and play like one and we did not.”
LW – Lucas Howard singles, Drew Forrest scores
LW – Jalen Allen caught stealing, Howard scores on a fielder’s choice
LW – Forrest doubles, Jack Gorlin and Jack Manolius scores
LW – Ben Jenkins reaches on an error, Allen and Evan Korn scores