FREMONT -- The John F. Kennedy High-Fremont baseball team has been climbing a tough hill this season. But the Titans reached a significant milestone with its 2-0 Mission Valley Athletic League victory Wednesday over Newark Memorial.
After having to forfeit eight wins earlier in the season due to the use of an ineligible player who had not completed transfer paperwork, Kennedy qualified to be considered for the North Coast Section playoffs with Wednesday's victory. Kennedy (10-13, 7-6 MVAL) clinched at least a .500 record in league play, which makes it eligible for the playoffs.
"This win was huge. Obviously it's a big win with all the forfeits we had," said Kennedy's Cal Stevenson, who scored the eventual winning run in the first inning and pitched four innings of shutout relief. "It helped to give us confidence going into next game."
The Titans have won seven games in a row, including five straight MVAL games. Kennedy coach Jim Stevenson said that after the forfeits were announced, he brought up players from the junior varsity team, and that has given his squad depth. "We are young," he said.
Cal Stevenson led off the bottom of the first inning with a first-pitch single up the middle and advanced to second on an error. He then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Beto Artero and scored on an error.
That would be the only run that Kennedy would need. Titans starting pitcher Clay Bennett threw three shutout innings, and Cal Stevenson finished up as the two pitchers combined for a four-hitter.
"Honestly, I didn't feel that great (on the mound), but I knew if I threw strikes and let them put the ball in play, I knew my defense would pick me up," said Cal Stevenson, who has signed with Nevada. He struck out five in his relief appearance Wednesday.
Kennedy added a run in the fifth on an RBI infield single by Kyle O'Dell, who had thrown out a runner at third base from right field at the top of the inning.
"That was a game-saver," said Jim Stevenson about the outfield assist by O'Dell.
Newark Memorial (16-7, 9-4) can still clinch at least a co-league title if it wins its regular-season finale on Friday against Irvington.
MVAL John F. Kennedy 2, Newark Memorial 0
Newark M. 000 000 0-- 0 4 2
Kennedy 100 010 x-- 2 7 0
Traynor and Harris. Bennett, Cal Stevenson (4) and T. Medina. W: Bennett (2-0). L: Traynor (8-2). S: Cal Stevenson (3). Records: John F. Kennedy 10-13, 7-6 MVAL; Newark Memorial 16-7, 9-4. Highlights: JFK -- Tonna 2 for 3; Cal Stevenson 4 IP, 3 H, 5 K, 1 BB, 1 for 3, R; Bennett 3 IP, 1 H, 0 BB. NM -- Lauro Sanchez 2 for 3; Arroyo 1 for 3, Harris 1 for 2, BB.