Vanden Vikings senior Darryl Dilworth Jr. went for his first at-bat of the game and was poised to keep the momentum going after teammate Jack Brooks scored a double and landed in goal position.
After Will C. Wood senior pitcher Bryce Mendez-Dichoso hurled the field, Dilworth Jr. swung hard and put the ball over the left field wall for his first home run of his high school career.
“I swung it well and it kind of came off,” Dilworth Jr. said. “It kind of surprised me, I don’t want to lie but hey, I can’t complain. I was happy about that.”
Behind the work of Dilworth Jr.’s four RBIs, the Vikings defeated the Wildcats 14-4 in five innings to end the Monticello Empire League series in front of the home crowd on Thursday afternoon. Vanden broke a 4-4 tie with four in the fourth.
When the Vikings (8-0, 3-0) came into play, they knew they wanted to break out offensively and use a small-ball strategy that the Wildcats (3-6, 0-3) had used in the previous two games had implemented.
“I felt like let’s get our offense going, and the way our field is set up here, it’s really hard to see later in the innings,” Vikings head coach Ryan Adams said.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, were ready to implement their own game plan.
“We really got into the game trying to get better quality in clubs on the plate,” said Wildcats head coach Nick Voight.
Early on, the Vikings were primed to pitch to committees, starting with junior DJ Andersen. Adams said it was something he and his coaching staff discussed before the game.
“We felt good, starting with DJ, then bridging it with Cody (Buckley), and then ending it with (Erick) Diez,” Adams said. “It was the game plan I decided yesterday and I approved it with my coaching staff and we all agreed it was the right thing to do.”
Despite being convinced by Andersen, the Wildcats fell at the head of the first when Mendez-Dichoso hit a single and Mason Sayre hit after scoring to start the game after junior Jarren Ford’s single
“One of the things we’ve been trying to attract these guys to is putting the ball in play,” Voight said. “We were able to take advantage and hit in time that we missed the last few games.”
After topping the first, the Vikings were in the game behind Dilworth Jr.’s homer. They also scored after senior Tyler James and Buckley hit base after each shot to take the lead. Between the work of Brooks, Dilworth Jr. and James, they accumulated eight of the 14 runs and went 10-for-11 on the day. Setting the pace at the front of the line-up is something Dilworth Jr. enjoys.
“Setting the tone early on beats the other team,” said Dilworth Jr. “It gives us a bit of an advantage throughout the game, gives us the upper hand to keep pushing where at the end they can’t come back.”
After hitting three consecutive batsmen in a row, Andersen was relieved by Buckley for a couple of innings. The Wildcats allowed two of those batsmen to score and ended the game tied 4-4 when Mendez-Dichoso and Ford both scored.
After Buckley was pulled into the top of the fifth, Diez pitched the last inning for the Vikings. Offensively, the Vikings broke the game wide by the end of the fourth, beating Mendez-Dichoso off the mound to a herd of assists as they scored four runs, and then another six runs late in the sixth. A big component of that was the Wildcats’ defensive mistakes — something Voight recognizes just wasn’t in their favor.
“One of the things we’re trying to teach these guys is boring defense,” Voight said. “We don’t need those ESPN games, we need those regular games. They got it, they understand, they see what we’re doing and we’ll keep trying to improve.”
When the Vikings’ sixth and final run scored at the end of the fifth, the game was decided by mercy, securing victory for the Vikings. While Voight is proud of his efforts, he wants the team to focus on getting just one percent better every day.
“Overall I think we served well today and played well in defense,” said Voight. “We are now in the different facets. Our goal is for everyone to come together at one point in every game.”
Dilworth Jr. acknowledges the season is young but is excited to continue playing with his teammates, especially after missing his junior season with a shoulder injury.
“It’s great, I know we’ve had our seasons cut for the last couple of seasons,” said Dilworth Jr see how it all unfolds, that’s what we’ve been waiting for.”
Vanden 14, wood 4
Next games: Saturday, Vanden at Laguna Creek, noon. Tuesday, Fairfield at Wood: 4 p.m
https://www.thereporter.com/2022/03/18/offensive-surge-leads-vanden-high-baseball-to-series-sweep-over-will-c-wood/ Offensive surge leads Vanden High Baseball sweep a series over Will C. Wood – The Vacaville Reporter