The Bears can thank one player for their 4-2 victory Thursday night: University of San Francisco pitcher Owen Stevenson. Stevenson seemingly chose between either throwing a hard fastball outside the strike zone or a meatball down the middle, a fatal combo.
(pc: Owen Kaminski)
Starting from the first pitch, the Bears were comfortable with the bat staying on their shoulders. When they did resolve themselves to swing, the expectation was that the ball would soon be traveling out of the park. That’s exactly what happened in the 1st inning as Dylan Beavers smashed a two-run home run.
Dons’ manager Nino Giarratano was active throughout the night, and he didn’t hesitate to pull Stevenson midway through the 3rd inning after two walks to start the inning. From that point, the Bears’ hitting wilted against relievers Josh Mollerus and Grant Young.
Both of Mollerus’ inherited runners came around to score, and the Bears managed to get a couple threatening at-bats against Mollerus throughout his four innings in relief. But Mollerus’ fastball and cutter combo had the Bears swinging at air more often than not.
On the flip side, the Bears’ pitchers were consistently average. Opener Jack Wolger was a ground-ball enabler during his time on the mound. His velocity faded fast at the start of the 3rd inning, prompting a revolving door of forgettable relief pitchers for the rest of the night.
Although the Bears’ pitchers made their outfielders run all night, in the end, they protected the lead throughout the night. Vaughn Mauterer was named the winner on the night despite giving up three hits and a walk in two innings, if that’s any helpful summation.
What the Bears will be happiest about is the high-quality defensive play throughout the game. Cole Elvis emphatically capped off the 8th inning by catching a runner trying to steal second with a high-speed hurl.
Both sides were vocal and chirpy throughout the whole game, hinting at some fireworks in the next three games of the cross-bay series. The Bears’ dugout gave a standing ovation to reliever Connor Oswalt after Oswalt, making his season debut after missing the 2020 season with an injury, ended the Dons’ 7th inning rally with a groundout to Darren Baker after inheriting runners on second and third.