Mike Cowell knew his opponent and also knew he wasn’t going to have to swing very hard to make something happen when he stepped to the plate with the score tied in the ninth inning Tuesday night.
Cowell got a high fastball and flicked it into right-center field, driving in the winning run as the Vigilantes rallied for two runs and a 9-8 victory over Salinas in a Western League game in front of an announced crowd of 1,685 at Saddleback College.
Cowell’s hit came against Derek Fahs, who was with the Vigilante franchise when it was in Long Beach last year.
“That’s my man,” Cowell said of Fahs. “I caught him a lot last year. We’re best friends, I’ve been waiting for that at-bat all year.”
Before the ninth-inning rally, the Vigilantes (2-1 in the second half of the season) watched the bullpen blow a three-run lead in the eighth inning. The Peppers (1-2 in the second half) scored four times in the eighth to take an 8-7 lead.
Fahs, second in the league with eight saves, entered in the ninth and struck out Carl Nichols for the first out. But Corey Parker doubled down the right-field line. Pinch-runner Dusty Martin scored on Willie Mosher’s single to center.
Fahs, who played at Cal State Fullerton and Fountain Valley High, struck out pinch-hitter Chris Briones for the second out. But Cowell singled and most of the team was at home plate waiting for Mosher, who scored without drawing a throw.
It was the second time the Vigilantes have beaten Fahs (0-2) this season.
“It was a fastball with good juice on it,” Cowell said. “I knew I didn’t have to do too much with it. I’m just a little guy.”
The Vigilantes used two Salinas errors and run-scoring doubles by Alan Burke and Bret Barberie and an RBI single by Parker to take a 7-4 lead in the seventh.
But Salinas came right back in the eighth. Reliever Aaron Magdeleno walked Jason Bugg to start the inning. He then found the strike zone, but Steve Hosey homered well over the left-field fence.
Vigilante Manager Buck Rodgers seemed on his way to the mound before the ball was over the fence. Kirk Kishita, the next pitcher, gave up a double to Kenny Norman, who was then sacrificed to third. Norman couldn’t advance on a ground out and Rodgers brought in hard-throwing Steve Ceterko.
Brian Kooiman then homered off Ceterko to give Salinas an 8-7 lead.
Catcher Eric Brooks left the game after jamming his thumb while sliding into second base in the fourth inning. He went to the hospital for X-rays. . . . Starter Mike Smith lowered his earned-run average to 2.81 in Monday’s 6-1 victory, which is third best in the league.