By Fred J. RobledoStaff Writer
LAKE ELSINORE — The sight of Bonita High School’s Matt Gelalich walking gingerly into the press room and burying his head in his hands explained it all. The Bearcats’ improbable run through the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 baseball playoffs ended on a sour 2-1 loss to Ocean View in the championship on Saturday at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore. (To continue, click thread).
CIF-SS Division 3 championship
Scoring by innings
Bonita ‘Cats 100 -000-0 — 1 4 2
Ocean View 011 -000-x — 2 5 4
How they scored:
Bonita 1st: Robert Mier led off the game with a single to left, and moved to second after a catcher’s pick-off attempt sailed to right rield. After Matt Gelalich’s ground out to first moved Mier to third, he scored on Evan Highley’s fly out to center, staking the Bearcats to a 1-0 lead.
Ocean View 2nd: Blake Hitchcock and Timothy Robinson led off the second with back-to-back singles, then moved to second and third respectively after Adam McCreery’s pick-off attempt on Hitchcock skidded to center. Nick Schulenburg’s grounder to third scored Hitchcock, but McCreery stuck out the next two to get out of the inning tied, 1-1.
Ocean View 3rd: Colton Johnson smacked a triple to lead off the inning and scored on Blake Walker’s ground-out to Mier at second, giving the Seahawks a 2-1 lead. Mier might have had a play on Johnson, but juggled the ball before getting the out at first.
Bonita, playing in its first championship since 1974 and hoping to win just its second title since 1951 and 107-year history of the school, played well enough to pull it off, but effort doesn’t always end up in titles.
“It’s tough to end your season with a loss, but it’s not going to get
in the way of a lot of great memories and things that have happened for us
this year,” Bonita coach John Knott said. “These are such a bunch of
competitive kids. They wanted it, they hit the ball hard, it just happened to
be right at people. A loss here doesn’t make it a poor season, it just means
we fell a little short of our goal.”
The loss snapped the Bearcats’ (24-5-1) nine-game winning streak, a
streak that included the same solid pitching they received throughout the
playoffs, but after scoring 24 runs combined in the quarterfinals and
semifinals, they cooled off.
Ocean View’s combination of starter Blake Walker, who gave up a run
and two hits in four innings, and closer Freddy Sepulveda, who returned from
shoulder surgery in January to spark the Seahawks’ late-season run, gave up
two hits in three innings.
It was also Ocean View’s (22-9) third championship, and first since
“They (Walker and Sepulveda) know hot to battle and know how to win,”
Ocean View coach Shane Borowski said. “It’s a potent combination. They
don’t strike out a lot of guys, but they make big pitches and our defense made big plays when we needed them.”
Bonita got off to the perfect start.
Robert Mier led off the game with a single to left, and moved to
second on an error. After Gelalich’s ground out moved Mier to third, he scored on Evan Highley’s fly out to center, staking the Bearcats to a 1-0 lead.
“We came out and set the tone in the first inning,” Knott said. “We got the lead-off hitter on and Evan got him home. But as the game wore on, those chances didn’t come as quick, and when they did, we couldn’t capitalize.”
Bonita pitcher Adam McCreery was solid for the most, giving up five
hits over five innings before allowing Josh Yepez to pitch the sixth, but the
two big runs cost him, and so did a throwing error.
Ocean View’s Blake Hitchcock and Timothy Robinson led off the second
inning with back-to-back singles, then moved to second and third respectively
after McCreery’s pick-off attempt on Hitchcock skidded to center.
Nick Schulenburg’s grounder to third scored Hitchcock, but McCreery
stuck out the next two to get out of the inning tied, 1-1.
“I was hoping we could get some momentum of out that,” Knott
said. “They scored but Adam did a great job keeping us even.”
Mier walked with one out in the third, then Gelalich followed with a
grounder to first, which was thrown into shallow left-center trying to get the force on Mier. It was a huge error, the runners advancing to second and third respectively. But Highley’s short fly to right couldn’t get Mier home, then Walker got a strikeout to get out of the inning.
It was a missed opportunity, because Ocean View’s Colton Johnson
smacked a triple to lead off the third and scored on Walker’s ground-out to
Mier at second, giving the Seahawks a 2-1 lead. Mier might have had a play on
Johnson, but juggled the ball before getting the out at first.
The Bearcats’ best chance to draw even came in the fifth.
Third baseman Greg Victoria lined a one-out double to left with Tyler
Heslop coming in to pinch-run for him. Mier followed with a long out to center that moved Heslop to third, but Gelalich struck out to end the inning.
“There’s not much you can do,” Knott said. “That’s the way baseball
is, we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.”