June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Beckman outlasts La Habra in thrilling extra-inning CIF second round playoff game

Beckman players (from left) Kai Carney, Carter Head, Mark Terry, Evan Chung and Kavin Patel after Tuesday’s game. (Photos: Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone).

It took 10 innings and nearly four hours but the Beckman High School’s baseball team pulled out its second consecutive extra inning playoff win with a 7-5 victory over La Habra in a CIF Division 3 second round playoff game at La Habra on Tuesday afternoon.

Isaiah Kapur’s two-out, two-run double in the top of the 10th inning gave the Patriots a 7-5 lead. Nick Molina, who came on in relief with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning and got out of a jam, set the Highlanders down in order in bottom of the inning to secure the win.

The Patriots (22-6-1) advance to the quarterfinals on Friday and will play Newbury Park (17-12) on the road.

To see additional photos, click on the first picture:

In the top of the 10th inning with one out Alex Dorantes worked a walk. Ken Tomitaka also drew a walk. Zach Ireland reached base on a fielder’s choice but on the play the second out of the inning was recorded. La Habra then brought in Maddox Moreno to pitch to Kapur. The senior left fielder drilled a shot to the left center field fence scoring two runs as the Beckman dugout erupted.    

“There were two outs and two on and they brought in a relief pitcher and I watched him warm up,” said Kapur. “I was looking for a fastball, and when I hit it I knew it right away that I got it all. I’m so happy and it’s so amazing how hard we battled. I’ll never forget this game as long as I live.”

Molina earned the win.

“I may have been a little nervous, and it was a stressful situation, but our season was on the line,” said Molina, who got a big lift on a heads up defensive play by shortstop Jagger Snitko, who fielded a ball that caromed off his third baseman Ken Tomitaka and quickly threw to first to retire the Highlanders batter for the first out in the bottom of the 10th inning.

“I knew I had to throw strikes and in every game I have to be ready to come in and today I felt confident.” 

Trailing 3-2 going into the top of the seventh inning, the Patriots rallied and sent nine batters to the plate. Beckman batters drew four walks and a batter hit-by-a pitch against two La Habra relievers. But the key hit in the inning was Ethan Rhee’s two-out, two-strike RBI single that tied the game at 3-3. Beckman added two more runs by virtue of bases on balls and led 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh.

The Highlanders (21-9) had some excitement of their own in the seventh inning and nearly won the game, but Molina came to the rescue. Bobby Fiero and Spencer Carty led off the bottom of the seventh with singles. Bobby Brooks walked to load the bases. Andrew Gandara hit into a fielder’s choice that scored a run and trimmed the lead to 5-4 with one out and runners at the corners.

Izaiah Posada was hit by a pitch to reload the bases. Molina then came on in relief of Nathan Andrade and got Maddox Moreno to ground to shortstop. The Patriots were able to get a force out at second, but Moreno beat the relay throw to first and Carty scored on the play to tie the score at 5-5. Molina then struck out Gavin Valenzuela to end the inning and forced the game into extra innings.

“We were one pitch away from winning this game, it’s such a brutal loss,” said La Habra Coach Jack Brooks.

Neither team had scoring opportunities in the eighth or ninth inning. However, both teams had scoring chances early in the game, but left a combined total of 13 runners on base. Both coaches pointed to the scoring opportunities that they didn’t take full advantage of in the first three innings.

“I’ve been a coach for a long time and honestly I really felt we were going to win this game, even when they tied it up and had a chance to win it in the seventh inning,” said Beckman Coach Kevin Lavalle. “I am so proud of every one of these guys. They’ve been there and they’ve been in games like this and their experience paid off. La Habra is a lot like us, they’re a tough program and we knew they would battle. This game will go into my memory bank for a long time.”

Tomitaka led off the first inning with a walk for Beckman and eventually came around and scored on a bases loaded walk to Rhee, giving the Patriots a 1-0 lead. The Highlanders quickly took the lead in the bottom of the inning on a RBI double by Brooks and a RBI sacrifice fly by Posada to take a 2-1 lead. Valenzuela added an RBI single in the third inning to up La Habra’s lead to 3-1. 

Both starting pitchers struggled with control and were relieved in the second inning. However, both teams got excellent relief pitching. Carter Head pitched five innings, gave up three hits, one run and struck out seven as he kept the Patriots within striking distance. Isaac Aguirre also shined in relief as he entered the game in the second inning for La Habra and pitched into the seventh inning.    

“I knew I had a big responsibility and I didn’t want to let my teammates down,” said Head.

Despite being disappointed, Brooks expressed pride in his players.

“We gave up 12 walks and that hurt us, but this is an amazing group of kids and I am extremely proud of all of them,” Brooks said.

“Coach Brooks is the best coach I’ve ever had,” said senior infielder Lucas Ruiz. “I wouldn’t trade my last four years for anything. There is no better program than what we have at La Habra and that’s because of Coach Brooks and the coaching  staff.”

Ruiz’s teammate Justin Martinez concurred.

“All year long we battled, even when we lost several league games by one run, we never stopped fighting,” said Martinez, a senior pitcher. “We found a way to get into the playoffs and it’s been a great experience playing for La Habra for the last four years.”

–Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone