By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
GARDEN GROVE — There was a perfect balance of brilliance, clutch-through performances and steady poise Friday afternoon from the Arcadia High School baseball team.
KJ Edson was brilliant on just two days rest, epitomizing true durability and consistency for the second-seeded Apaches.
Greg Papavasiliou was clutch, time and again proving that the No. 7 hitter is also dangerous task, in front of a standing-room-only crowd and on the road at Pacifica High, no less.
Erik Trask was steady, never succumbing to pressure in the biggest game of his career.
The junior right-hander delivered when called upon, culminating a strong outing with a strikeout to end a standoff to send the Apaches to their first semifinals trip since 1987 with a 2-1 win over Pacifica in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
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Edson, a senior, started his third playoff game in these playoffs, giving up just two hits and one earned run in 4 2/3 innings. It was all he was available for after reaching his 10-inning allotment for the week.
The side-arm pitcher anxiously watched from the dugout as Trask gave up a double to Kyle Davis on the first pitch, prompting a meeting on the mound with Arcadia coach Nick Lemas.
“I went to go talk to him right after that and just told him we’re still winning,” Lemas said.
He warned Trask to expect a bunt, and that’s exactly what Pacifica’s Ryan Dickison showed. He proved unsuccessful.
Trask got him to chase a 2-2 pitch for his second strikeout of the game. Trask needed just two pitches to get the next batter to fly out to right. He then got ahead on the final batter for a quick 0-2 count, but Cody Bistline’s missed swing came on a wild pitch, moving Davis to third.
Bistline fouled off the next pitch before Trask delivered the Mariners’ final pitch of their season — Bistline struck out, sending the Arcadia (26-3) faithful into a frenzy and making plans for a Tuesday home game against Etiwanda in the semifinals at a time to be determined.
“You get a runner at third base with one out there’s a lot of ways to score him,” Lemas said. “Being able to keep him at second base and getting an out … it was the game for us, so it was huge.”
Trask jumped on the first pitch in the top of the seventh for a double to deep right field. One batter later, Papavasiliou also jumped on the first pitch for a double that sailed over the center fielder, giving the Apaches the winning run.
Trask pitched 2 1/3 innings and gave up just one hit. He had help along the way, evident in the sixth inning when Tyler Dominguez turned a double play to make up for an error to start that inning.
“I knew I had to go in there and throw strikes and not try to be too fine because if I started getting wild and falling behind they’d start hitting me a little more,” Trask said. “I was just trying to stay calm, keep my composure and not let them rattle me. I knew my defense had me all the way.”
That Pacifica (24-8) swung aggressively worked in Edson’s favor.
“That was the scouting report on them,” he said. “We knew they’d swing early in the count. I just had to throw strikes and get in the zone. Those umpires were absolutely brutal. They didn’t give me anything. We played Pacifica and the umpires today.”
Arcadia jumped to a 1-0 lead in the second after Brendan Campbell drew a leadoff walk on a full count. Trask delivered a base hit over second base and the runners later advanced on a balk. One batter later, Papavasiliou recorded his first of two RBIs on a sacrifice fly.
Pacifica came right back in the bottom inning with a leadoff single from Ryan Erskine. Devan Campos laid down the sacrifice bunt to move Erskine over to second. Bistline reached on an error to put runners on the corner before Jordan Ellis’ infield single scored Erskine. There was no play at home and the score was tied, 1-1.
The next play proved to be one of the most crucial plays of the game.
Matt Gilbody hit a grounder to the Edson, who turned around for the force out at second. An alert Dominguez then fired a laser to Campbell at home to get Bistline out, ending the threat.
Edson led with a strong outing and Trask just followed suit.
“It’s great because for the past six years we haven’t been able to get past the first round,” Trask said. “We’re going places this year. We want to keep it going and make it to Dodger Stadium.”
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Arcadia 100 000 1 — 2 4 2
Pacifica 100 000 0 — 1 3 0
KJ Edson, Erik Trask (5) and Brendan Campbell; Kyle Davis and Cody Bistline.
2B: Haram Park (Arc), Trask, George Papavasiliou; Davis (Pac). W: Trask. L: Davis.
Records: Arcadia 26-3; Pacifica 24-8.