Minutemen travel long road to semis
Maranatha’s marathon 3-2 victory over Lancaster Desert Christian earned the Minutemen to a trip to Bishop for Tuesday’s CIF-SS Division VI semifinals.
Above: Maranatha sophomore pitcher Dylan Covey.
Tuesday’s CIF-SS Division VI Semifinals
Maranatha at Bishop, 3:15 p.m.
My thoughts: Against the No. 2 seed, Maranatha proved it had the pitching to stay in games. Actually, stay in almost two games. If the pitching holds up and they can get some hits in this far away land called Bishop, the Minutemen will be playing for the title on Saturday at UC Riverside.
Question: Can Maranatha overcome the long drive and make it to the finals?
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
Maranatha High School’s baseball team is becoming accustomed to going the extra mile.
The Minutemen needed 13 innings to pull off a 3-2 victory over No. 2-seeded Lancaster Desert Christian in the CIF-Southern Section Division VI quarterfinals Saturday at Brookside Park.
Maranatha (17-10-1) must now really travel the extra miles, almost 270 of them one way, to Bishop for today’s 3:15 p.m. semifinal match against Bishop Union.
Against Desert Christian, the Minutemen used the “pitcher by committee” approach.
Sophomore Dylan Covey worked the first 5 1/3 innings, followed by Cory Popham and Danny Beckwith.
For the second consecutive game, the Minutemen needed to stage a late rally and tied the contest in the bottom of the seventh to send it to extra innings.
“Our team perseveres,” Maranatha coach Brian DeHaan said. “To come back down 5-0 after making early mistakes against Riverside (Notre Dame) and being down 2-1 against Desert Christian and having Cory Popham and Danny Beckwith come in and shut those guys down the way they did, I think it’s a huge confidence boost for our kids.”
Bishop (18-2), the Hi Desert League champion, defeated Desert Hot Springs 3-2 in the quarterfinals.
The Broncos have outscored their opponents 239-50, including a 38-0 triumph over Frazier Mountain on April 25. They’ve scored 20 or more runs four times and 19 twice.
“On paper, they’re a great baseball team,” DeHaan said. “Their team batting average is .402, and they play in a tough league with Kern Valley and Rosamond.”
John Blumburg (.529, two home runs, 19 RBIs) and Ethan Aukee (.508, seven HRs, 33 RBIs) pace the Broncos.
“They have a very potent offense,” DeHaan said. “I know that they’re a solid baseball team and they didn’t make it to the semifinals by accident.”
Nick Salas and Aukee pace Bishop’s pitching staff.
“Both their No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers are in the mid-50s in strikeouts, so I think they’re the type of kids that will put the ball in play and they have a solid defense behind them,” DeHaan said. “We’re going to have to execute like we did Saturday and play solid defense ourselves.”
Popham will get the start and have Beckwith and Covey, who could be used as a closer, waiting in the wings.
“The reality is, Cory Popham and Danny Beckwith have done a great job for us this year, and Cory’s a gamer and wants to pitch,” DeHaan said. “Our staff has picked each other up all year.”