North Monterey County third baseman Tyler Lazzarino throws to first base to retire Sobrato’s Tim Andrade (2) after Andrade bunted in the second inning of a Central Coast Section Division II playoff game Thursday at Gavilan College in Gilroy.
(Photo by Eric Anderson)
GILROY — For one inning, it appeared the North Monterey County High baseball team had another upset in the making against Sobrato in the first round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs.
But No. 2 Sobrato, helped by the 15th-seeded Condors’ mistakes, would have none of it, quickly pulling back even after falling behind 3-0, then scoring runs in bunches to win 13-3 in a game-shortened to six innings due to the 10-run mercy rule Thursday at Gavilan College.
North County coach Tim Gower said he was surprised his team even qualified for the playoffs — its 11th appearance in the last 12 years — considering that the third-place team in the Monterey Bay League usually doesn’t get in and that the Condors were just 13-16 in the regular season. However, he said his players weren’t just happy to be in the postseason.
“They firmly believed if they came in here and played a good game that they’d win,” Gower said. “They did expect to win today and they are disappointed. But I’m proud of them for winning enough games at the end of the season to make the playoffs.”
Last season, North County was the No. 11 seed and beat Sobrato, the No. 6 seed, 4-3. It was Sobrato’s first playoff game, and it dropped its record to 23-8. Thursday’s win improved the Bulldogs' record to just 18-13, but their No. 2 seed reflects the tougher competition they have faced since moving up to the Mount Hamilton Division of the Blossom Valley Athletic League. That tougher competition also better prepared Sobrato for the test the Condors posed, Bulldogs coach Shorty Gutierrez said.
“We’ve kind of gone through this kind of thing where we get down and come back,” Gutierrez said. “I thought that helped us today to be calm and (get ourselves back in the game).”
North County, meanwhile, had a young team this year, with only four key contributors back from last year’s squad.
“It was a whole nother team for us and for them,” Condors senior second baseman Garrett Murphy said. “I knew they would come out fired up, and we had to ready for that.”
North County got off to a strong start thanks to aggressive play and a few Sobrato mistakes. Murphy scored after Sobrato threw the ball away when he was caught in a rundown between second and third bases, A.J. Jimenez scored on a two-out error and Adam Irino scored on a double steal.
“They made us play catch and they put the ball in play and put some pressure on us,” Gutierrez said.
The Condors could have done more damage in the early innings, however. They didn’t score when they had runners on second and third in the second inning, and failed to score again when they had runners on first and third and nobody out in the third inning.
Meanwhile, the windy conditions, a high sky that made tracking fly balls difficult and an inability to throw strikes started to take its toll on North County. In the second inning, Sobrato scored three runs with two outs to tie the game at 3; two of those runs came after North County lost a short fly ball in the sun, and the ball fell for an RBI single.
Two hits — one of which was lost in the sun — an error and two wild pitches helped Sobrato take a 5-3 lead in the third, then it used three hits, three walks, an error and a wild pitch to score five runs in the fourth, blowing open the game.
“We got in a slump and things didn’t go our way,” Murphy said. “Then a few errors happened from there.”
Murphy and Irino each had two hits — with one of Irino’s a double off the left-field fence. Sobrato starting pitcher Ryan Williams didn’t allow any other hits, allowing three unearned runs in six innings. He struck out six and walked just one.
North County, meanwhile, had a revolving door on the mound, with A.J. Peters, A.J. Jimenez and Dylan Todd coming on in relief after starting pitcher Austin Self lasted just 2 2-3 innings. Self started the game with back-to-back strikeouts, but allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks.
Williams put an end to the game when he hit a two-run triple with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Brian Bradley and Tim Giles both hit two-run singles for Sobrato. Bill Birrell went 3-for-4 with a walk.
The Condors allowed nine walks and threw six wild pitches.
Sobrato will play No. 7 Leigh, a 10-0 winner over No. 10 Terra Nova, in the quarterfinals today. For North County, it’s wait until next year after the Bulldogs’ win.
“Good for them,” Gower said. “You’re supposed to want to get back at people who beat you and end your season.”
“We had our ups and downs, but overall, it was definitely a good season,” Murphy said.
Share on Facebook