BASEBALL: Gilroy’s playoff run short lived

BASEBALL: Gilroy's playoff run short lived

The Gilroy High baseball team fought off deficits on two
occasions but surrendered its newfound leads each time, the latter
becoming the dagger in a 9-8 loss to Westmont in the first round of
the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs Thursday in
Gilroy.
The Gilroy High baseball team fought off deficits on two occasions but surrendered its newfound leads each time, the latter becoming the dagger in a 9-8 loss to Westmont in the first round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs Thursday in Gilroy.

The No. 8-seeded Mustangs (15-13) swiped an 8-5 lead after a four-run bottom of the fifth, highlighted by slugger Eric Vegas’ three-run home run.

That cushion deflated two by two over the next two innings as the No. 9 Warriors (15-13) chipped away with a pair of runs in the sixth and adding the equalizer and the go-ahead tallies in the seventh.

Relief pitcher Devin Laucher struck out the first two Mustangs in the bottom half of the seventh. Down to the final out, Vegas lifted a towering fly ball to left field and reached second base when the ball was dropped. However, Laucher induced a ground ball off the bat of Reed Kienle for the third out to seal the victory.

“It’s playoffs, anything can happen,” GHS manager Johnny Ramirez said. “You look at that scoreboard, Westmont score almost every inning. They elevated their game.”

Both sides played a dangerous game of give some, take some. The Warriors, though, ended up with what mattered most.

GHS starting pitcher Ronnie Reed didn’t make it out of the second inning, leaving with two outs and the bases loaded. Eric Brolin came in a bailed the Mustangs out with minimal damage, preserving a workable 3-0 score.

“When you’re chasing two, three runs it’s tough,” Ramirez said. “We had the team to battle, but once you’re down, you start pressing a little.”

GHS did well to climb out of the early 3-0 hole, plating two runs in both the second and third innings.

RBI by Jordan Dexter and Peter Palma pulled GHS to within one after two frames. Ryan Alba scored on an error, and Brolin crossed on a Vegas double play fielder’s choice as the Mustangs grabbed their first lead 4-3 after three.

Westmont answered right back with two in the top of the fourth on RBI doubles from Casey Thompson and Justin Edgar, to take a 5-4 advantage. Thompson hassled GHS pitching to the tune of a 3-for-4, four RBI day, including the tying RBI in the seventh.

The Mustangs appeared to harness the momentum after Brolin was able to work out of another bases-loaded jam in the fifth.

“(Brolin) battled for us,” Ramirez said. “He kept us in it, he really did.”

Vegas’ loud no-doubter over the left-field fence in the bottom half ignited the push further.

Brolin retired the first two hitters in the sixth, but an error kept the inning alive, and the Warriors utilized the help. TJ Conroy extended the inning with a base hit and set the table for pinch hitter Devin Walton’s two-run double pulling Westmont to within one, 8-7.

“I felt good going (into the sixth),” Brolin said. “It wasn’t one of our best games, some errors brought us down a bit, but we did play hard throughout the whole game. I’m heartbroken right now.”

The Mustangs stranded a possible insurance run on second base in the bottom of the six, and the seventh started in unfavorable manner with Brolin beaning the leadoff man. A sacrifice bunt moved the tying run into scoring position and Thompson delivered the clutch hit and later scored the decider on Laucher’s single.

“It’s tough for them right now,” Ramirez said. “It is what it is. It’s unfortunate that we aren’t going to the second round.”

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