Cleveland senior righthander Austin Barela delivers a pitch in the fourth inning. (Herron photo)
Four unearned runs in the fifth inning turned into an opening-game 6-5 loss for the Cleveland High baseball team Thursday afternoon at the Shockyards.
It was the first game of the annual Cleveland Invitational, six-team round-robin event.
Both teams went with their aces: Ryan Castillo for the Los Lunas Tigers, and Austin Barela for the Storm.
Barela had trouble finding the plate early, needing 39 pitches to get out of the first inning, which included five walks, but no hits – and a 2-0 Tigers lead.
No problem: The Tigers made two errors in the bottom of the first, helping the Storm tie the game at 2.
The Storm took the lead in the third, scoring three times, with RBI singles coming from Logan Kinter and Gabe Nelson.
Barela pitched the fourth and left with that 5-2 lead, having thrown 91 pitches by then, finishing with five strikeouts and six walks – and not giving up any hits.
Anthony Del Angelo, a freshman, pitched the fifth, and that’s when a misplayed fly ball into short center field started a four-run rally – although Del Angel fanned the Tigers’ third and fourth batters, only to give up a single, triple and walk before finally getting his third strikeout of the frame.
The damage was done – neither team scored again.
Jarren Villa pitched the final two innings.
The Storm got hits by Villa and Brandon Hennessy in the fifth, but stranded them when Castillo struck out Chase Tyler.
In the seventh, the Storm got a leadoff walk by Barela, who was replaced on the basepaths by courtesy runner Karter Weddle.
Closer Paul Cieremans struck out Silas Hilton and Kinter, and helped Weddle get into scoring position on a balk.
Then, for some unknown reason, Weddle was caught advancing toward third and was tagged out to end the game.
“That’s a tough one; I don’t know what to say about that,” CHS coach Shane Shallenberger said.
Obviously, there were a lot of mistakes made,” Shallenberger said. “It’s a long year.”
Barela, he said, when asked about his control, “hasn’t had a lot of mound time. He was kinda recovering from a little twinge he had. … He got better as it went on, so I don’t have any worries that he’ll be better his next time out.”
The Storm face Hobbs Friday morning at 10 at the Shockyards as the invite continues.