By: Tom Liguori
SAN DIEGO – The Palm Springs POWER embarked on their second road trip of the season on Monday. With first place in the SCCBL on the line, the POWER faced off against their divisional foes, the San Diego Force. After splitting a two-game series at home in early June, the POWER completed a two game sweep of the Force. On a day that featured great pitching and hitting with zero combined errors, the POWER won 1-0 in game one and 8-5 in game two for their 25th and 26th wins of the season.
Game one saw POWER starter Luke Barker back on the mound for his first appearance since sending waves throughout the SCCBL with his perfect game last Monday. This time around the hurler needed every bit of the magic that he displayed in his last outing. His counterpart, San Diego Force and former All-SCCBL pitcher, Adam Quintana, looked equally dominant on the mound in the early going.
Newly crowned SCCBL Pitcher of the Month Barker’s streak of retired batters finally ended in the second inning at an astounding 31, after a single by Force shortstop Justin De La Nunez. In what is becoming routine, the POWER pitcher once again delivered a complete game shutout. Barker has now run his scoreless streak to an incredible 25 innings. The Chico State righty allowed only four hits on the day while striking out six. Most impressively, Barker was able to work through trouble in the sixth through eighth innings, stranding runners on third in both frames to diffuse the danger.
On the other end of the pitchers’ duel, Quintana rolled through the POWER lineup with an overwhelming fastball and devastating curveball that left batters off balance all afternoon. However, they were able to do just enough to hand Quintana the loss.
POWER second baseman Ryan Raslowsky finally got the best of the Force with a third inning single. After the POWER stranded two runners in scoring position in the fourth, Raslowsky helped the POWER light up the scoreboard with a two-out single in the fifth, driving in Cody Gaertner. With the prevailing Barker on the mound, that run would indeed be all the insurance that the POWER needed on the day.
The second game of the day featured yet another pair of impressive pitchers bound for a duel. Keaton Cenatiempo took to the mound for the POWER one week after throwing a complete game three hitter. Cenatiempo had the tough task of facing off against Force ace Josh Makler. In his first five starts this season the San Diego lefty had been masterful, acquiring a record of 5-0 while surrendering just four earned runs.
Early on in the game, Cenatiempo looked up to the challenge as he scrapped his way to one-run ball through 4. The BYU right-hander was aided by an outstanding play by the hero of game one, Ryan Raslowsky. With two outs and runners on second and third, Raslowsky made a fully extended leaping grab on a hard-hit line drive to keep the deficit at just one run through three innings. Cenatiempo left the game after five plus innings, giving up eight hits and four runs while striking out four.
In the top of the sixth inning the POWER bats came alive versus Makler. The lefty allowed five runs in the inning, more than he had allowed in his previous 32 1/3 innings of work total. After six straight batters reached base safely for the POWER, designated hitter Daniel Sander delivered, blasting a two-run double off the right field wall for his second hit of the ballgame.
Second baseman Kobie Foppe added two singles in the sixth inning, extending his hitting streak to a remarkable 16 games. The POWER did all their scoring in that sixth inning, plating eight to take a commanding 8-2 lead.
Jordan Cavazos came on in relief of Cenatiempo, working four innings to get the save. It was his second of the season.
Conference play continues tomorrow for the POWER, as they take on the Inland Valley Buccaneers at Palm Springs Stadium in the first of a two-game midweek SCCBL series. Be sure to come out to the ballpark for Dollar Beer Night, as Bud and Bud Light drafts are just $1 all night, presented by Tahquitz Creek Golf.