Pilots’ Third Inning Onslaught Overwhelms Cougars, 11-3

Pilots’ Third Inning Onslaught Overwhelms Cougars, 11-3

The Saint Joseph Notre Dame (SJND) High School’s varsity baseball team continued its impressive start to the 2023 season, improving to 5-1 overall — the team has moved to 6-1 as of Monday, March 27 — and 1-0 in the league with an 11-3 seven-inning victory over the College Prep of Oakland (0-5).

The Pilots kicked off their Bay Counties – East League campaign, hosting the Cougars on a sunny, but cold March 24 afternoon in front of a small crowd of mostly parent spectators. Both SJND’s starting pitcher, sophomore Tam Pullman-Letourneau, and his counterpart, Kanan Clifford, started the game strong, throwing scoreless first innings.

In the second inning, the Pilots’ offense began applying pressure on the visitors’ defense; however, they failed to score from a bases loaded, one out situation. While waiting for his team to score some runs, Pullman-Letourneau kept the Cougars scoreless, striking out the side after the Pilots left the bases loaded.

In the bottom of the third inning, SJND broke through in a major way, scoring all 11 runs with two outs. It looked like more of the same after the first batter, senior Cameron Murphy, was picked off second base after getting a hit and stealing second.

But, the next hitter, senior Joshua Vonnegut, reached on a high throw to first. He scored the game’s first run on first baseman Thomas Cooke’s ground ball single into center field. Then, the floodgates opened with the Pilots scoring 10 more runs before Clifford and the Cougars were able to record the final out of the inning.

Every member of their lineup contributed in the third, either by getting RBI hits or reaching base via a walk or a defensive mistake by the Cougars. The long inning culminated with third baseman Henry Weichhart’s infield dribbler turning into a home run and three more runs for the home team.

The Pilots threatened to score more runs against new Cougar pitcher Santiago Enanoria, but once again left the bases loaded in the fourth.

Pullman-Letourneau made it through five scoreless innings before giving up a run in the sixth inning on an RBI double by the Cougars’ Nate Ilfeld. His replacement on the mound, junior Noah Klube, got out of the inning and then proceeded to give up two more runs in the game’s final inning.

Pullman-Letourneau picked up the win after striking out 10 and only giving up one run on three hits over 5 ⅔ innings. The Pilots’ victory over the Cougars was their second of three victories in three days last week. SJND defeated Encinal High School, 8-2, on March 23, and defeated Piedmont High 4-3 on March 25.

Ben Wiley is a contributing writer for the Alameda Sun.