After getting off to a hot start to the season the Yosemite High Badgers baseball team (4-3, 0-1 NSL) hit a road bump losing their first league game in a heartbreaking 7-6 loss against the Liberty Hawks (2-8, 1-0) on March 13.
Yosemite jumped out to an early lead, accumulating three runs in the top of the first inning after senior Joey Woolsey led the game off with a single and Tyler McIntyre followed right behind with a single of his own. The Badgers received a gift from the Hawks when an error on the center fielder scored Woolsey and moved McIntrye to third. Following a Brandon Gillaspy fly out to shortstop, a Luke Howell base hit scored McIntrye and moved Barone to third. The next batter, Logan Szabadi, grounded out to the shortstop which drove in Barone and gave the Badgers an early 3-0 lead.
From there, Yosemite was able to produce two more runs in the top of the third on the combination of a McIntrye single into right field, a Barone walk, a Howell single and a double from Szabadi giving the Badgers a 5-0 lead.
Yosemite was able to hold Liberty to just one hit and two walks in the first two innings, but pitcher Joey Woolsey and the Badgers defense was unable to keep the Hawks scoreless for much longer.
Errors seemed to be the difference in the game as the Badgers put the first two batters in the third inning on base with two throwing errors. Liberty’s Ethan Cookson responded, driving in both runners with a crucial two RBI single.
“We made too many errors,” Coach Bob said. “We had one inning where the wheels came off, and when the wheels come off, they come off in a hurry.”
Yosemite was unable to put together any offense in top of the fourth and the game seemed to slip away from the Badgers as starting pitcher Joey Woolsey gave up four runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth. The Badgers trailed 7-5.
Yosemite was able to tally one more run in the top of the fifth to pull within one but the Hawks relief pitcher Wyatt Sanders seemed to be too much for the Badgers as he was able to shut down the YHS bats and close out the last two innings with one hit, one walk and no runs giving Liberty a 7-6 victory.
Howell finished the game going 3-4 with a double and four RBIs and Szabadi finished with four RBIs on two hits in his four at bats.
The heartbreak of the crushing loss seemed to be compounded by another crushing blow, but this time is was personnel issues that have Badger fans cringing. In a surprise announcement earlier this week, Siebenberg and YHS were notified that the star-brother duo, Joey and Brian Woolsey, will be leaving Yosemite following a recent family decision to move to Arkansas.
As the teams number one and two starting pitchers, the Woolsey’s were crucial to the success of the team. After being named Underclassman of the Year last year in the NSL, Brian was coming off a go-ahead grand slam in the fourth inning against Selma March 5, and a complete game shutout against Fowler on Feb. 24. He was leading the team in ERA, wins, and hits before his departure.
Joey, a senior at YHS, was the team’s leading pitcher in 2014 and was just getting back into the groove after coming off a football shoulder injury which required surgery. Both Joey and Brian were key pieces to the Badgers offense batting out of the one and three holes respectively. Their shoes will be tough to fill and the Badgers are left with voids in positions that would otherwise showcase the team’s best players.
Siebenberg said he is saddened by the news but wishes them the best.
“It’s disappointing,” Siebenberg said. “I enjoyed Joey’s company all year and I think he was serious about having a good season. He worked hard to rehab from his shoulder injury in football and worked his way back to full strength.”
Siebenberg said he plans for the team to stay competitive and his focus is to get the team ready to play against Kerman on Tuesday.
“Despite the hit we still have a very good team. We will continue to work as hard as we have. There is a lot of fight in these kids and as one door closes another one opens. It’s the way of the world,” Siebenberg said.
Frank Lemos and John Varian have already been moved up from JV to combat the loss and Dylan Rounsivill will be first up to fill a hole.
“Inside this new situation Rounsivill will find himself on the field every day. He is a very versatile and dependable kid,” Siebenberg said.
Siebenberg says they will look to senior catcher Tyler McIntyre and Evan Prater to lead the team as McIntrye currently leads the team in batting average and has become and asset for the first year head coach behind the plate.
“He is doing a remarkable job behind the plate as a first time catcher. He has great leadership skills and field awareness,” Siebenberg said.
The Badger play their first league home game of the year at 4 p.m. March 20, against the rival Sierra Chieftains.