Top Moments of 2007
This photo, taken after the teams 8-7 victory over the Central Valley Warriors in the Central Valley World Series, includes (clockwise from standing left): Josh Franco, Jared Coleman, Phil Boren, Brent Etiz, Andrew Rich, Robert Chambas, Brett Bishop, Alec Mehrten, Bryce Barger, Anthony Martinez, assistant coach Chris Perry, Justin D'Amico, Seth Batty, Allen Riley, and Sean Silva.
#15 – Haden Hinkle’s 400-foot moon shot
Haden Hinkle is an imposing figure when he comes to the plate. Pitchers are now scared even more than ever. Against the Westlane Mets in the Contra Costa Concrete Central Valley Summer Slam, Hinkle blasted a 400 foot bomb to left field at Washington Union High School. Players and fans from both sides let out a collective “ooooooooohhhh!” when the ball came off the bat. It cleared the outfield fence, the street , and finally came to rest when it hit the tree near the school’s gym.
#14 – Blaze win 15 in a row
To begin the season, the Blaze were flawless. A total of 15 straight wins was highlighted by a doubleheader sweep (for wins nos. 14 and 15) at the USA Baseball Junior Olympics in Peoria, AZ (see below).
#13 – 14-run inning against the Stockton Bears
It was a sight to behold. The Blaze opened the first inning in a game against the Stockton Bears with an hour long inning that resulted in 14 batters crossing home plate. At one point, eight straight hitters recorded hits in the inning.
#12 – A doubleheader sweep at the USA Baseball Junior Olympics
The USA Baseball Junior Olympics started off in fine fashion. The Blaze began the tournament with an impressive 11-0 win against the Rocky Mountain Red (CO) team. Later in the day, Haden Hinkle’s gritty performance kept the Blaze close in a game where they were dominated for the first half of the game by a hard-throwing lefty. However, Brett Bishop’s three rbi’s and Robert Chambas’s three hits ended up in the Blaze winning 10-4 over a solid Seattle Pilots team.
#11 – A 10-inning thriller as Blaze overtake Westlane Mets
At the BPA Summer Championships in Stanislaus, the Blaze needed a win over Westlane to advance to the championship game. It took a total of 10 innings to finally get it done. The see-saw affair saw Andrew Rich pitch four innings of scoreless relief for the win. The 4-3 win ended on a botched rundown that Chris Neal eventually scored on.
#10 – Josh Franco’s 20 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings
Dating back to last season, Franco put together a mind-boggling streak of 20.1 scoreless innings on the mound. Highlighting that streak was a complete game shutout against the Central Valley Conexion in early June.
#9 – Andrew Rich reaches base in 11 straight plate appearances
After struggling with bat in his previous tournament, Andrew Rich went back to the drawing board for the 5th annual Wood Bat Championships; rather, he went back to the batting cage! It resulted in an outstanding streak where he reached base in 11 straight at-bats. Rich had seven hits and four walks during the streak.
#8 – Blaze play 100th game in team history
A sign of the team’s stability was made evident when the Blaze played their 100th game against the El Dorado Bobcats on July 23, 2007. The 10-2 victory vaulted the team into the final four of the BPA Championships, which they eventually won.
#7 – Blaze win back-to-back-to-back games in 10 hours to win Wood Bat Championship
The Blaze won three straight games on a Sunday to win the championship at the USSSA Fall Classic in September, but it wasn’t as impressive as the time they did it at the Wood Bat Championships. With only 20 minute breaks in between each game, and the temperature nearing 100 degrees in Sacramento, the Blaze willed their way to three straight wins, highlighted by a 5-2 victory over BMP-18 in the final. The Blaze began the day at 12:30 and ended at 10:30 that same night.
#6 – Seth Batty’s 7 consecutive hits
Nobody was hotter than Seth Batty at the BPA Championships in Stanislaus. Batty had two hits in his last two at-bats against Bay Area Baseball in game one of the tournament. From there, he went 3-3 against Paso Robles in game two and then , amazingly, banged out two hard singles in his first two at-bats against Westlane. Seven at-bats and seven hits for Batty.
#5 – Sean Silva’s one-legged “Kirk Gibson” blast
There was nothing more fun to see than Sean Silva hobbling around the bases at the USSSA Fall Classic in September. Playing with only nine players, the Blaze had no substitutes against the Arsenal Baseball Club. Battling a sore knee (Osgood’s Schlatter), Silva hobbled to the plate. Clearly unable to run, Silva was told by coach John Rich, “Don’t push it.” He didn’t have to – Silva promptly planted the first pitch he saw over the right field fence. Silva’s performance was a mirror of Kirk Gibson’s homerun in the 1988 World Series. Both are left-handed, both had a sore knee, both hobbled to the plate, and both gimped around the bases to the cheers of many.
#4 – Dustin Wold’s 8 consecutive hits
When it was evident the Blaze would be short a few players for the USSSA Fall Classic, Freedom’s Billy Wardell and Justin D’Amico did some recruiting. They didn’t have to go far—teammate Dustin Wold said he’d be happy to play. After starting the tournament slowly, Wold caught fire. He set a new Blaze record by getting hits in eight consecutive at-bats (he actually reached base nine straight times as he walked in between). The highlight was his 4-4 performance in the leadoff spot in the championship game.
#3 – Brett Bishop’s 440-shot at the USSSA Fall Classic
And we thought Haden Hinkle’s shot (see # 15) was a blast. Stepping to the plate against the Arsenal Baseball Club in the USSSA Fall Classic, Brett Bishop blasted a homerun over the 377 sign in left-center field. The ball struck the light pole approximately 30 feet up—the ball was hit with such ferocity that it seemed as though it would knock the pole over. The homerun, which inspired “ooohh’s” and “aaaahh’s” from everyone, was estimated at 440 feet. The shot was so impressive that teammate Seth Batty felt the need to film a re-enactment on his cell phone and send it to Blaze teammates who did not attend the tournament.
#2 – Veterans Boren, Franco, Coleman, & Gonzales brothers win first title in three years
After several chances in the summers of 2005 and 2006, the veterans finally got their coveted championship. Phil Boren, Josh Franco, Jared Coleman, Gibby Gonzales, and Phillip Gonzales had all played for the Blaze for three straight years. In the Central Valley World Series, the Blaze beat the Central Valley Warriors 8-7. The “vets”, playing their last game with the Blaze, ended their careers in style!
#1 – Blaze win six consecutive tournament championships
The Blaze’s most impressive streak was winning six straight tournament championships, dating from mid-July to early October. The six championships, however, was more than just about wins. The championships signified and validated the commitment, perseverance, teamwork, and “no quit” attitude of the players. The friendships and memories of the 2007 season will be etched in the minds of the parents and players forever—as will their implausible run of six straight championship banners!