Heat Edge Potters in Extras to Claim Game 1
The defending Great West League Champions arrived in Lincoln Monday night to begin their second postseason campaign against the first-time GWL championship hopeful Lincoln Potters.
With defensive errors abound for both squads, the contest boiled down to a pitching duel and gritty offensive competition. Timely pitches and late-innings opportunities eventually propelled the Heat to victory as the team nabbed game one by a score of 4-3 in ten innings.
Lincoln looked to their ace, Kenneth Pettibone to quell the Heat’s surging bats. Despite Pettibone’s immaculate 1.29 ERA, the Heat jumped on the hurler early as an RBI from Carson McCusker knocked in Garrett Kelly to give Chico a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
Chico’s Lucas Knowles got the nod from Skipper, Fred Ludwig, for game one. Knowles retired Lincoln’s first two batters of the game, including a strikeout, before allowing three walks to load the bases. As the bottom of the first appeared dismal, Knowles relieved the Heat faithful by slamming the door on Lincoln’s Austen Swift with a four-pitch strikeout to close the inning without allowing any Lincoln damage.
However, the Potters did break in Knowles in the bottom of the second as a triple off the bat of Jake Boyd knocked in two runs to give Lincoln a 2-1 lead.
Fast forward to the top of the eighth as the Chico bats approached the plate desperately wishing to reclaim their lead and give reliever, Grant Dragmire, some breathing room. RBIs from Jack Walsh and Garrett Kelly allowed the Heat to take a 4-2 lead over the Potters while simultaneously handing Dragmire a crucial opportunity to close out the final two innings.
The Potters refused to go quietly as Zach Hall delivered a two-out RBI single to tie the game at three each before the Heat’s Tanner Tokunaga threw out the winning run at home plate to force the game into extra innings.
The thrilling matchup between the two squads who battled for second place in GWL standings throughout the final weeks of the regular season lived up to all expectations in the tenth inning.
Wild pitches from the Potters’ Travis Parker proved deadly as they advanced Chico runners around the base paths before a wild pitch scored the eventual winning run for Chico as Lincoln surrendered 4-3.
The defending champs will head home to Nettleton Stadium Tuesday night to face the Potters for game two of the best-of-three series. For the Heat, a victory in game two will punch their ticket to the GWL championship round, but a loss would force a deciding game-three to be played at the Nett Wednesday.
Tickets for game two (and game three, if necessary) 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.