Above: La Salle’s Bowdien Derby entered as a reliever in the third, but it was too late.
By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
PASADENA — Timing is everything, and the La Salle High School baseball team learned that valuable lesson on Tuesday.
The errors came in the most inopportune moments for the Lancers that more than helped extend innings for St. Bonaventure, it helped built its rallies.
La Salle’s clutch hits with runners in scoring position never came despite trailing early, and it all summed up to an 8-4 loss in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
La Salle’s (19-8-1) remarkable season came to a sudden end after bringing home the school’s first Del Rey League title and entering the playoffs with momentum as the No. 2 seed, and expectations were high.
St. Bonaventure (18-9-1) was going to be a tough obstacle. The Saraphs have a reputation for being a hard hitting team, and they flexed their muscles against La Salle’s Austin Wallis.
The intimidation process started early in the first when senior Patrick Weigel came to the plate. The 6-foot-7 senior knocked the dirt off his cleats with two hard knocks of the bat. He then proceeded with an RBI single to give St. Bonaventure an early 1-0 lead.
La Salle would came back in the first to take a 3-1 lead thanks to David Sanchez’s RBI single to score Noeh Martinez and then Chris Williams’ two-run home run.
But Weigel came right back in the third and on the first pitch took a hard swing for a three run home run to give St. Bonaventure a 4-3 lead it would not relinquish. But it shouldn’t have happened after a routine double play was botched at second, allowing Grant Gallegos to reach first on a fielder’s choice and Jordan Farris safe at second. The next batter flew out to center before Weigel came to the plate.
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Brian Magana hit a hard double down the left field line before Codi Santana then drew a four-pitch walk. That’s when Kevin Hernandez reached first safely on another error, allwoing Magana to score and make it 5-3.
La Salle committed four errors, but it was those two that proved to be costly.
“We knew we were going to be in for a dog fight,” La Salle coach Harry Agajanian said. “We just kicked the ball around. We can’t do that against a good team like this. We knew they were going to be tough. We made some errors, gave them extra outs.”
St. Bonaventure coach Raul Camacho said the team’s been in situations before when it trailed and didn’t lose composure. Weigel’s big day carred the Seraphs.
“All of a sudden one swing of the bat and we’re up,” Camacho said. “It took their momentum away. They were really vocal in supporting their team, but once the home run came it took the air out of the balloon and fired up our guys.’
La Salle coach Harry Agajanian said “we felt the tire deflate on that one” but the chances certainly were there even after that point. The Lancers in all left seven runners stranded, five of which came after the third inning.
“What might have happened is we pressed a little too hard after that,” Agajanian said. “Guys were swinging at pitches we shouldn’t have been swinging at, but it wasn’t for the lack of effort. We just gave them extra outs when we shouldn’t have.”
St. Bonaventure belted 13 hits and knocked out Austin Wallis in the third. Connor Jenkins came in relief and gave up two runs on just 13 pitches before Bowdien Derby came in. He struck out four and gave up no runs and two hits in four innings.
“When you leave it up against a good team they’re going to get the hits,” Agajanian said. “And they did that.”
After the final huddle, Derby and Agajanian embraced each other for several minutes. Tears turned into laughter as the five seniors embraced each other.
They can take solace in that they’ve set a solid foundation for a young program moving forward.