Here is another in a series of game recaps by R.E. Sales, featuring Milken Community high school. Sales will be covering games that include teams from the Heritage League and surrounding areas. We welcome anyone who has a knack for interesting and objective writing to contact us and arrange to have their articles submitted.
Pacifica Christian 7, Milken 6
By R.E. Sales
After coming from behind in the top of the 7th inning by scoring twice without hitting the ball to go ahead 6-5, the Milken Community School Wildcats couldn't hold the lead in the bottom half and lost to the Pacifica Christian Seawolves, 7-6 Monday afternoon at the North Venice Little League Field. Seawolve Nico Agnone's two out sinking line drive to center field--J. J. Ross was about an inch short of snagging the ball--drove in Austin Cortina from 3rd with the winning run.
It was another tough loss for the Wildcats who were held to 3 hits by Kevin Hammer who pitched the first 5 innings and then hitless against Cortina who finished up--the duo combining to strike out 13 Wildcats with a healthy Mitchell Mayer being the only Milken batter who did not strike out. At the plate, Pacifica pounded out 12 hits with Hammer going 4 for 4 with 2 RBI's and Cortina 2 for 3 including a 2 run homer in the 5th. So given the wide disparity in the overall stats, how did it come about that Milken was two outs away from winning? Read on.
For openers, the Seawolves jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first off J. J. who went the first 6 innings. Lead-off batter Athen Shelp singled to right, took 3rd on Cortina's double to left field, and scored on Hammer's infield single--a high hopper to 3rd. Cortina took 3rd and scored on a successful double steal with Hammer taking an extra base--it appeared Jonah Resnick applied the tag before Hammer reached 3rd but the umpire saw otherwise. Hammer scored the 3rd run when J. J. uncorked a wild pitch. And were it not for a perfect relay from David Blazer in center to J. J. who in turn fired to catcher Corey Gitman who applied the tag on Agnone tying to score on Cheviot alumnus Duncan Valade's single to center Pacifica would have added another run--maybe more. After that, J. J. settled down and retired the Seawolves in order in the 2nd, 3rd & 4th innings. Hammer singled in the 3rd but Corey threw him out trying to steal.
Meanwhile, other than walks to David & Mitchell with the two out in the first and a lead-off walk to Jonah in the 2nd, Hammer was untouchable over the first 3 innings with 6 Wildcats going down on strikes. But in the top of the 4th, Milken used little ball including some gutsy base running to rally for 4 runs and take the lead. Mitchell led off and reached base on an error by the shortstop. Corey's pop fly to short right field was lost in the sun and fell in for the Wildcat's first hit--Mitchell taking 2nd. Jonah's bunt was fielded by Hammer who fired to 2nd but the shortstop dropped the ball and the bases were loaded. Harris Girocco hit a slow ground ball to short with Corey beating the throw to third on an attempted force out--Mitchell scoring. Yale Wollman dropped a bunt and Corey again beat Hammer's throw to Cortina at the plate to score the 2nd run. After Sammy Lawrence missed on another bunt attempt and went down swinging, Ary Lavin walked to force in Jonah with the tying run. J. J. followed with a single to drive in Harris and put Milken ahead 4-3 with one out. But Hammer avoided further damage retiring David--called 3rd strike and Mitchell--force play at 3rd. In the Milken 5th, Corey reached on another error and two outs later took 3rd on Yale's single to center. But with Sammy at the plate, Hammer caught Yale off first and in the ensuing rundown, Corey broke for home and was likewise caught in a rundown and tagged out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 5th, lead off batter Osvaldo Chimalpopoca singled. Timmy Vaughn laid down a bunt--J. J. fielded it and fired to Yale to force out Osvaldo. Yale's relay to first to get Vaughn was wide and sailed past Mitchell who retrieved the ball and tagged Vaughn who appeared to have turned left towards 2nd at the request of the Seawolve first base coach who loud and clear yelled to him to try for the base. However the base umpire ruled there was no attempt to try for the base and instead of being out #2, Vaughn stayed on first, advancing to second on a balk and to third when Athen Shelp grounded out which would have retired the side had Vaughn been called out. But he wasn't and as a result Cortina got to bat and belted his home run over the fence in center field to put Pacifica ahead 5-4. In the Milken 6th, Cortina & Hammer switched positions with Hammer going behind the plate and Cortina pitching. Sammy led off and on a 2-0 count was hit. But as was the case in the previous inning, he was caught leaning the wrong way and picked off. Both Ary & J.J. took called 3rd strikes and after J. J. retired the Seawolves in their half, Milken was down to its last 3 outs, trailing 5-4, and subsequently even down to its last out.
Here's what happened in the bizarre top of the 7th and then what happened afterward. Cortina was wild again. He walked David leading off and uncorked a pair of wild pitches with David advancing to 3rd. Mitchell also walked and stole 2nd. But Cortina came back to get both Corey & Jonah swinging and the Wildcats were down to their last out. But with Harrison at bat, Cortina uncorked another wild pitch--the ball bouncing far enough away from Hammer so David could score the tying run with Mitchell taking 3rd. On the next pitch to Harris the ball got away from Hammer and again rolled far enough away for Mitchell to score the go ahead run. Harrison struck out to end the inning but Milken had regained the lead 6-5 without hitting the ball.
In the bottom half, David replaced J. J.--they swapped positions--and the inning started off great when Vaughn went down swinging. But on a 3-2 count Athen Shelp singled, stole 2nd and took 3rd on a wild pitch. Cortina walked and also stole 2nd. Hammer singled to left with Athen Shelp scoring and Cortina taking 3rd. David came back to strike out Tucie Shelp--they have some unique names---for the 2nd out before Agnone became the Seawolve hero and kept the game from going into extra innings. The Wildcats are now 1 & 2 in Heritage League play and will host the 3 & 0 Seawolves in a rematch Thursday afternoon in Encino with the game starting at 2:45. Can the Wildcats play more terrifica, avenge the loss and beat the team from Pacifica? Stay tuned.