‘We came out and played with some fire’ B52s learn from, look to build from loss

Humboldt B52s’ player Eric Smelco high-fives coach Mike Ford during a 10-9 loss to the Humboldt Eagles 19-U on Friday at Bomber Field. (Andrew Butler — Times-Standard)
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Sometimes a loss a says a whole lot more about a team than a win does.

After loosing 12-1 in their series opener on the road against the Healdsburg Prune Packers on Saturday, the B52s responded with a much better outing on Sunday and pushed the Prune Packers into extra innings, eventually loosing 4-3 in 10 frames.

It was a loss which B52s’ head coach Scott St. John said described as a moment in which his club showed perhaps as much promise going forward as it had in any win this season.

“After the first game (at Healdsburg) I made it a point to gather and talk as team,” St. John said. “I told them we need to start showing some more passion for the game. We came out and played with some fire against a very good team the next day. I’m happy with the steps we took over the weekend. We have a lot of talent on this team, we just need to mesh together and get to know each other.”

One of the many bright spots for the B52s this summer has been the performance — for the most part — of its pitching staff.

Luis Pimentel, fresh off his sophomore season with College of the Redwoods, has emerged as a dependable starter for the B52s in his second year with the club.

In two starts Pimentel has pitched 11 innings — 11 innings being tied for the most on the team along with Cade Sheets — and has given up seven hits and two walks while recording eight strikeouts. He also has a team-leading 0.82 ERA.

B52s’ pitching coach Pat Spellmeyer said he has been “very impressed” with both Pimentel and Sheets, adding that both are doing as good a job as anyone in the bullpen at throwing strikes and trusting the defense behind them.

Like Pimentel, Sheets, currently playing his college ball with Santa Rosa Junior College, has only given up seven hits this season and has a 1.00 ERA. Sheets has also recorded a team-leading 12 strikeouts in two starts and three total appearances.

The most surprising stat for both, however, may be that neither has earned a win for their efforts yet.

But that’s not always how it works in baseball, and Pimentel is more than okay with that.

“Wins are really an “I” stat,” he said. “I think my teammates feel the same way too. As long as we win as team, I don’t think anyone is concerned with who gets the win.”

The B52s’ have also seen more-than-a-few quality relief innings from several arms in their bullpen. Tommy Gale has pitched 6.2 crucial innings across four appearances for the B52s, often entering the game during some of the more key innings of baseball the club has played this year. Gale has been credited with two of the B52s’ four wins this season, has 1.42 ERA and has given up just one hit during his time on the mound.

Spellmeyer said Ryan Rivera, out of Hartnell College, has been another good option to have when the time for a reliever comes around.

In eight games this season a handful of sluggers have emerged for the B52s.

Ethan Fischel and Brian Orr lead the B52s with eight hits each. Orr also leads the team in RBIs (six) while Fischel leads the team in batting average (.348) for players with more than 15 plate appearances. Eric Smelko has the highest average on the team, .462, but has appeared in just three games and has about half the at-bats than does the majority of the B52s roster.

Orr’s most memorable moment of the young season undoubtedly unfolded on June 4 when his walk-off 2RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning completed an eight-run comeback as the B52s stunned the Fresno A’s in a 10-9 victory.

That wasn’t the only time this year the B52s have seen a contest come down to the wire — and they’ve been on both sides of the end result.

Five of the B52s’ games this season have been settled by two runs or less and all but one by three runs or fewer. Twice the B52s have lost in extra innings — a 10-9 loss to the Humboldt Eagles 19-U on June 7 and the aforementioned 4-3 loss to Healdsburg on Sunday.

So, you could say its been a whole lot of tight air space for the B52s thus far in its summer campaign.

The B52s, 4-4 on the year, will host the Redding Ringtails for three-game series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. at Bomber Field. The B52s beat the Ringtails four out of five games last season.

On Sunday, when the B52s finish up game three against the Ringtails, they’ll either hold a winning record or losing one — and that’s a good place to be.

 

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