Andrew Mitchel said he didn’t get much sleep Tuesday night.
Wednesday’s classes were a bit of a blur for the Buhach Colony senior as well.
With a child’s Christmas-morning-like giddiness, Mitchel has only been able to think about the Thunder baseball team’s season opener the last couple of days. And that focus showed.
The southpaw peppered the strike zone, consistently pitched ahead in the count and allowed his defense to shine behind him. Mitchel allowed one run on four hits and struck out seven in 61/3 innings pitched as the Thunder opened its season with a convincing 8-1 victory over Modesto.
“I couldn’t wait to get dismissed from class to come out here,” Mitchel said. “For the last week this game has been pretty much all I could think about.
“It helps me, though. I feel like when I’m really pumped up like this, my command is better. It also helps when I know my defense has my back. They made plays I didn’t know they could make, and it made my day easy.”
The BC (1-0) offense did its share to ease Mitchel’s burden as well.
The Thunder got going in the bottom of the second when Brandon Esau opened the inning by reaching on a two-base error. Modesto starting pitcher Ricardo Martinez battled back with consecutive strikeouts, but Buhach made the Panthers pay for the extra out.
Austin Ekizian singled in Esau. Nick Singer followed with a single and Julien Sandoval doubled them both in. BC strung together five straight hits to plate five runs.
It was the start of a big afternoon for coach Greg Wakefield’s bottom third of the order. Ekizian, Singer and Sandoval (2 for 2, 3 RBIs, 2 SBs) combined for four of Buhach Colony’s nine hits, scored four runs and drove in five.
“Those guys were solid,” Wakefield said. “They went up to the plate with some really good approaches and turned in some nice at-bats. There were some things we could have done a little better today, but it was nice to go out and turn in a complete performance.”
The five runs was more than enough for Mitchel.
He allowed just one runner into scoring position in the first five innings while limiting Modesto (0-3) to two hits. The Panthers finally got to him in the sixth, with Matt McElroy delivering a two-out, run-scoring single.
BC then scored three runs on a Singer squeeze bunt, a Sandoval infield single and a Mike Casso (3 for 4, 2B, 2 RBIs) single to put the game away.
Sun-Star staff writer Sean Lynch can be reached at (209) 385-2476 or email@example.com.