Pitchers' duel goes Capo Valley's way

Pitchers' duel goes Capo Valley's way
The Cougars scrape together a rally in the seventh to beat Orange Lutheran, 4-0.

ORANGE - Sometimes the winner of a baseball game is determined by who succeeds at doing the little things. That’s what happened for Capistrano Valley in a CIF-SS Division I second-round playoff game against Orange Lutheran on Tuesday night.

With one out in the top of the seventh of a scoreless game, the Cougars took advantage of a passed ball by Orange Lutheran catcher Robby Vaughn to move two runners into scoring position at second and third.

Steve McMichael was walked intentionally by Lancers relief pitcher Bobby Wheatley. Nolan Clark then worked Wheatley for a walk that forced in Peter Hoyt with the game’s first run. Hoyt had started the rally with an infield single.

Tyler Matzek followed with a two-run single to left and Kevin Chambers added an RBI single to lead the Cougars to a 4-0 victory at Hart Park.

The Cougars (22-6) will play host to Marina in the quarterfinals on Friday. Marina defeated Vista Murrieta, 5-3, on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, that passed ball came at the wrong time,” Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba said. “Then they got to their big guys and break it open a little bit.”

Before the seventh, Matzek was locked in a pitcher’s duel with Orange Lutheran pitcher Andrew Thurman (5-8), who allowed four hits through the first six innings.

Thurman pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning. The Cougars loaded the bases with one out and appeared set on busting the game open. However, Thurman got Clark to fly out to right and he retired Matzek on a fly ball to left to end the inning.

“It has to be a tough thing on a pitcher when you’re going up against arguably the best left-hander (Matzek) in the country and you have to go out and put zeroes up,” Borba said. “There’s pressure on you, but he answered to that.”

The Lancers did their best to put pressure on Matzek, but the left-hander didn’t fold.

Orange Lutheran had runners get to third in the first and third innings but couldn’t break through. Matzek allowed a lead-off hit in the fourth, but escaped without any harm. Then in the fifth, he walked consecutive batters with one out, but he retired the Lancers when Nicholas Burnett lined into a double play.

“I was struggling a little bit getting that first guy (of the inning),” Matzek said. 

Matzek (11-1) allowed two hits in six innings and recorded seven strikeouts to get the victory. Clark pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Cougars.

“He’s a tremendous bulldog," Capistrano Valley coach Bob Zamora said of Matzek. "He’ll fight you tooth and nail. He didn’t want to come out of the ballgame. He had already hit 103 pitches and he wanted to go out (for the seventh). As soon as we got the four runs, it made my decision easier."

Zamora said he was confident that Clark could handle finishing the game and liked that he saved added wear-and-tear his ace, Matzek. 

"Now, the 20 pitches we saved by him not going out (for the seventh), maybe he has to close the game against Marina," Zamora said. "You never know, but I’m glad I made the decision that I made.”

Of course, Matzek wanted to go back out for the seventh.

“I felt good,” he said. “I wanted to stay in. I felt like I had plenty left in the tank, but it was coach’s decision.”

Clark, who started the game at catcher, pitched a scoreless seventh for the Cougars.

“For six innings, it was pretty much a perfect game,” Borba said. “If you would have told us we would be 0-0 after six innings, we would have liked I chances, especially when Matzek was around 100 pitches.”

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