Hang around the ball fields long enough and you are sure to hear the phrase, “It only takes one,” which was the case for two of the top teams from the area in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.
For the Vista Murrieta Broncos (21-11, 1-4) and the Murrieta Mesa Rams (24-7, 12-3), it only took one run to decide who would move on Tuesday, May 24, and who would go home with a season ending loss.
The first six innings of baseball at Murrieta Mesa High School was indeed a pitchers duel and four different Mesa pitchers would be called upon throughout the game in order to keep their shutout in tact. First up, sophomore, Tony Carreon, who controlled the bump early on for the Rams as Esperanza managed just three hits off of him during his 3 1/3 innings of work.
“I had to put my last start behind me and did my best to work the count and the zone against Esperanza,” says Carreon, who added, “I just kept thinking about how much I want this for the boys, and knowing my team had my back, I just kept gaining more and more confidence.”
Next, Kevin Palm would come in to relieve Carreon, giving up just one hit in his 1 2/3 innings on the hill, but it would be Nate Stillinovich who got the win for the Murrieta Mesa Rams with his one inning where he allowed zero runs.
That same sixth inning saw Murrieta Mesa score their only run on the day by pinch-runner Jordan Spurgeon, who scored on a passed ball. Spurgeon was running for first baseman Hunter Woodruff after he got on base with his second single of the day. Senior left fielder, Caiden Matkins, also had two hits on the day while Brad Prebay, Kevin Palm, Austen Salcedo and Zac Filos each had one hit in the game. Filos would also close the game on the hill, helping his team secure the win to advance in the playoffs.
Aztec pitcher, Ryan Wilson, couldn’t get it done on the hill for Esperanza, taking the loss. He lasted just 5 2/3 innings, walked two, struck out none, and allowed the one run.
Murrieta Mesa will now move on to the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs where they will face Orange Lutheran (22-8, 9-6), the #2 seed out of the Trinity League, on the road. The Orange Lutheran Lancers won their round 2 playoff game against Huntington Beach in extra innings by a score of 4-3.
For the Vista Murrieta Broncos, one run would be the deciding factor in their game as well, but they would not benefit from the same outcome as their Southwestern League neighbors from Mesa.
With the score tied at 4-4 against Harvard-Westlake in the bottom of the eighth inning, Chance Hroch, last Friday’s round one starter, who was called in to close the game in the fifth inning, relieving sophomore right-hander, Jake Moberg, gave up a double to Wolverine catcher, Matt Thomas. Thomas who laced a shot to the outfield, aggressively took second and slid into a very questionable call at second base, but None the less, with a runner now in scoring position, the storybook ending played itself out for the Wolverines. Hroch delivered a 3-2 fastball to the very next batter, Julian Girod, who sent the ball into the gap in left field, scoring Thomas, ending the Broncos post season run.
Brandon Luna (3-4), Drew Sims (2-4), Marc Gonzalez (2-4, RBI) and Shaine McNeely (1-4, 2 RBI’s) kept the Broncos close offensively, but could not get ahead of Wolverine pitchers, Jesse Bergin (5 IP) and Nico Mannucci, who picked up the win with his three innings on the mound. Harvard-Westlake will now move on to the quarterfinals to face Cypress (25-7, 10-0) of the Empire League.
*Standings and stats provided by MaxPreps and GameChanger.