By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Remember Bishop Amat, the team with the huge pre-season expectations that dropped five of its first six and 10 of 16 to disappear off the radar and out of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 baseball rankings?
That seems so long ago.
Bishop Amat routed visiting Garden Grove Santiago 12-3 in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs on Wednesday, the Lancers’ 12th win in their last 13 to improve to 18-11.
Just like that, the Lancers are one of the hottest teams in the division and the timing couldn’t be better.
“There’s nobody in this (division) that’s played a tougher schedule and is as battle tested as us,” Lancers coach Andy Nieto said. “We’ve gone through a lot and we’ve continued to fight the fight.
“Down the stretch we’ve won half a dozen one-run games. That means you’re defendng well, you’re pitching well and closing out games. It means instead of finding ways to lose games, you’re clutching-up and closing it out.” (To continue reading click thread)
CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
Wednesday’s First Round Result
Bishop Amat 12, Garden Grove Santiago 3
Thursday’s First Round
Cathedral at Bonita, 3:15 p.m.
Los Altos at Mira Costa, 3:15 p.m.
West Torrance at Diamond Bar, 3:15 p.m.
West Covina at Serra, 3:15 p.m.
El Monte at La Puente, 3:15 p.m.
Duarte at Maranatha, 6 p.m.
Mountain View at Sierra Vista
Friday’s First Round
Rio Mesa at South Hills, 3:15 p.m.
Damien at La Mirada, 3:15 p.m.
Claremont at Aliso Niguel, 3:15 p.m.
Northview at Ramona, 3:15 p.m.
Torrance at San Dimas, 3:15 p.m.
Century at Baldwin Park, 3:15 p.m.
Nogales at Kaiser, 3:15 p.m.
About the only adversity Amat faced was giving up a two-run homer to the Cavalier’s Franky Raigoza in the first inning to fall behind 2-0.
Other than that, starter Andrew Eppenbach pitched five solid innings, giving up just the two runs and five hits before giving way to Alan Rodriguez and Eric Vega to close out the sixth and seventh respectively.
“We knew they were a free-swinging team,” Nieto said. “We asked for a fast ball away and he (Eppenbach) got it up and in and the guy (Raigoza) buggy-whipped it and hit the crap out of it. That’s what you should do to a pitcher’s mistake.
“But to Andrew’s credit, he settled and pretty much ran through the line-up the rest of the way.”
Evan Claproth’s double in the first scored Scott Hurst and Hurst’s sacrifice fly in the second inning scored Michael Hernandez to tie the score, 2-2.
Amat blew it open in the third inning, scoring eight runs to take a 10-2 lead, thanks in part to four Cavaliers’ errors.
Amat’s Christian Moya singled in two runs and with two runners aboard, Daryl Daniels’ innocent single to center rolled through the outfielder’s legs to the fence, allowing Daniels to round the bases as the Lancers tacked on three more runs.
Adam Alcantara also had a big day with a double, single, two runs scored and two RBIs.
“That’s big when you can have a big inning like that,” Nieto said. “It’s difficult to respond.
“We had a game like that against Chatsworth where one big inning took you out of the game. Unless you have the firepower to come back and respond it makes it difficult.”
Bishop Amat will play the second round on Tuesday against the winner of today’s game between Downey and fourth-seed host Palm Desert.
Palm Desert won the Division 4 title last year and Amat defeated Palm Desert to win the Division 4 title in 2011.
Ironically, Amat just defeated Palm Desert 3-2 in a non-league game on Saturday that was set-up to give both teams a tough test before the playoffs.
“It’s funny because we went up there in the very mild 105 degree weather to play a game we scheduled months ago because both of thought it would be a good thing to do,” Nieto said.
“They’re the defending champs and if that’s the way it has to be, so be it. Whether it’s Downey or Palm Desert, we’re as ready as we’re going to be.”