The Santa Maria Indians looked sharp all around for seven innings Friday night.
In the eighth and ninth, their pitching and defense looked shaky. But the good stuff the Indians had done earlier held up for a 9-5 Santa Maria victory over the San Diego Mavericks in a semi-pro baseball game at Elks Fields.
The game was the Indians' season opener and ushered in the start of Bryn Smith's Indians managing era. Adam Gardner went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs as Santa Maria racked up a 7-0 lead during the first seven innings.
San Diego, 3-5, was without about half of its team. A Mavericks player said many of San Diego's players got caught in traffic slowed by the transporting of late President Ronald Reagan's coffin to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
"They'll be here (today)," the player said after the game. The Indians and Mavericks play a doubleheader at Elks that starts at 3 p.m. this afternoon.
A dedication ceremony for the late Clarence "Scoop" Nunes preceded the game. Nunes, who died in November after a long battle with cancer, had been the Indians' general manager for the past 43 years. A plaque dedicated to Nunes, which was unveiled during the ceremony, will be displayed at the Elks Field entrance to Indians games.
"I thought it went pretty well overall," Smith said of his team's first game. "It was good to get one under our belt, get our feet wet. We got to see a lot of people, and that was nice."
The Mavericks saw more than they would have liked of Indians starting pitcher Matt Scott. Scott threw the first six innings and allowed one hit.
"(Indians catcher Cesar Reyes) kept working the outside corner, and we wanted to do that until they proved they could hit it," said Scott, who went 3-1 as a starter for Fresno State last season and is in his second year with the Indians.
"It took them awhile to adjust to (the outside corner pitch), and even then Bryn said to keep throwing the fastball," said Scott. "They kept hitting it at people."
Meanwhile, the Indians looked all set to coast in behind Scott's strong six innings.
The Mavericks' defense gave them plenty of help along the way as the Indians built their big lead. Bryan Aguailar scored Santa Maria's first run of the season on Mavericks catcher Jared Biriankott's two-out throwing error as he tried to pick Gardner off first base in the third inning.
Two of Santa Maria's four seventh-inning runs came on bad throws home from the infield. Jimmy Rivera had the lone extra base hit in Santa Maria's 10-hit attack, a leadoff triple in the fifth. He scored on Gardner's ground out.
"We played solid baseball the first seven innings," Smith said. "Then we got a little sloppy."
The sloppiness began with third baseman Kyle Carson's one-out throwing error in the eighth. Then second baseman Jacob Peich, another recent entry into the game along with Carson, threw high to shortstop Isaac Simmons as he tried to get a forceout at second base.
Thus, instead of going out in order as they should have, the Mavericks had runners on first and second base with one out. They went on to score four runs.
Before the Mavericks scored a run in the ninth on Scott Shapiro's infield single, Justin Parker helped the Indians out by straying too far off second base on Matt McKinney's single that should have loaded the bases. Carson tagged out McKinney for the second out after a short rundown.
After Shapiro's hit Chad Smithback, the Indians' third pitcher, struck out Biriankott looking to end the game.
This marks Gardner's third season with the Indians. Friday marked his best opening game with them.
"Bryn worked us out for three hours each day for two days before the game," Gardner said. "He really stressed the hitting, and it helped."
June 12, 2004