Heat Clinch Playoff Spot with 5-4 Win over Yuba City
1,372 Chico faithful were in attendance on Aloha Friday as the Heat opened up a three-game homestand against the visiting Yuba City Bears. The Heat, now 31-21 on the season, capitalized on late-inning heroics to punch their ticket to the Great West League postseason with their 5-4 victory.
The Heat wasted no time in lighting up the scoreboard as a two-out double off the bat of Marcus Wilhite scored Carson McCusker to give the Heat a 1-0 edge in the bottom of the first.
The Bears answered back in the top of the second after Logan Wurm delivered a lead-off single off Heat starter Justin Watland. Trey Yukumoto propelled Wurm to third on a first-pitch double to give the Bears’ Malcolm Boehm an RBI opportunity with no outs and two runners in scoring position. Boehm hit into a fielder’s choice to score Wurm, knotting the game up at one-a-piece.
With both squad’s starting arms still in the game, the Heat marched into the seventh inning trailing the Bears 2-1. The Bears put up one run in the top of the seventh after taking advantage of a passed ball on Heat catcher, Mark Jones. However, the Heat responded almost immediately as they cut the Bears’ lead 3-2 on an RBI single from Brandon De La Guardia.
The Bears extended their lead 4-2 in the top of the eighth, but as the scorebooks will show, a sleepy Heat offense finally awakened the bottom of the inning. The red-hot Tanner Tokunaga rocketed a lead-off single off Yuba City’s relief pitcher, Ian Manso. With Tokunaga on second, Carson McCusker drew a walk on a 3-1 count to put two runners on for the Heat’s Marcus Wilhite. Before walking Wilhite, Manso threw to the backstop, allowing Tokunaga to cut the Bears’ lead 4-3. With bases loaded, the Heat’s Bailey Zimmer wore a pitch from Manso to walk in the tying run before another RBI from Brandon De La Guardia provided the Heat with the 5-4 lead.
The Heat’s Grant Dragmire earned the save after retiring the side to secure the win, and postseason berth, for the Heat. Tanner Clark was credited with the win, while starter Justin Watland recorded six strikeouts in his seven innings pitched while allowing only six hits and one walk along with three earned runs.
The Heat will host the Bears for game two Saturday night. The evening will mark the final fireworks display of the season at Nettleton Stadium as well as Military Appreciation Night with a first pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm. Available tickets can be purchased online at ChicoHeat.com, over the phone by calling (530) 725-5444, or by visiting the Chico Heat Office at 1722 Mangrove Ave. Suite 24 Chico, CA 95926.