May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Irvine makes home fans happy with 8-3 CIF Division 4 playoff win over Rancho Alamitos

Irvine’s Bubba Filia gets fired up after a double in the first inning Friday. (Photos courtesy James Tomlin, For OC Sports Zone).

Irvine High’s baseball team made the most of its first CIF playoff appearance since 2013, defeating Rancho Alamitos 8-3 Friday afternoon in a Division 4 opener before one of the largest crowds in many years to see a Vaquero home game.

To see the slide show, please click on the first photo

The Irvine fans packed the bleachers which were installed above a newly-constructed concrete base which elevated the site line. Rancho Alamitos also had a solid turnout for the playoff opener which featured two teams with the nickname Vaqueros.

“It was just really exciting for us; we haven’t been there in a long time,” said Irvine Coach Gabriel Cota. “I’ve been with the program for a few years and to have the support we had from everybody and you saw how beautiful everything looks. We just feel really blessed to have the administration, the backing of the parents and the students and everybody.

“I think starting the game we were a little nervous. So we all had to settle in and take a breath but it was really, really fun.”

Irvine (18-8) moves on to the second round Tuesday against Nogales at Irvine. Irvine’s last playoff victory came in 2013 against Bellflower.

The Vaqueros got a strong performance from starting pitcher Ryan Barlow, who pitched into the sixth inning before being relieved by Yoni Bracha. Miles Malohn finished it out for the Vaqueros.

Barlow allowed three runs, one earned, gave up two hits and struck out four.

“He’s been solid for us all year,” Cota said of Barlow. “He kind of had to get himself back in check and once he did he was pretty wonderful. Obviously a bunch of credit to Rancho; they’re a really well coached team and they play the game hard so we had to play a good ball game in order to have a chance.”

Irvine first baseman Casey Kudell led the way, going 2 for 3 with five RBI. He drove home Bubba Filia, who led off the bottom of the first inning with a double, on a sacrifice fly.

Kudell then had an RBI single in the fourth inning to drive in Grant Lockwood, who had singled and stolen second base to put Irvine ahead 4-3.

Kudell capped the day with a bases clearing double in the fifth inning to give Irvine an 8-3 lead following an RBI single by Jackson Lyman which gave Irvine a 5-3 edge.

“It was a 2-0 count and I just saw the pitch and my eyes lit up and I got a good piece of it,” Kudell said. “I think it’s great, it’s a good start but there is still a long way to go and hopefully we can keep playing good and eventually win.”

Rancho Alamitos (15-9) gave Irvine a scare in the early innings.

Trailing 2-0, the Vaqueros rallied with three runs in the third inning to take a 3-2 lead. Manny Aguilar led off the inning with a triple and scored when Andrew Chu reached on an error. Chu was credited with an RBI. Later in the inning, Anthony Leonos followed with a two-run single.

Irvine responded with a run in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Camron Hicks to tie the game 3-3.

The Irvine Vaqueros then moved ahead in the fourth 4-3 on Kudell’s single off Rancho Alamitos starter Nathan Alarcon, who battled on the mound until coming out in the fifth inning. Juan Zazueta came on in relief.

“I thought we fought a little bit today,” said Rancho Alamitos Coach Greg Pines. “We got down early and they battled to put up three in the third inning so I was happy to see a little fight there.

“Irvine can swing it. They can hit. They played much better and they won. Nathan has been our guy all year and they got some hits off him and that was the game.

“It was a good season, we went 12-3 in league is a pretty good year for us. Irvine is probably one of the top teams we’ve played this year so this was a good challenge for us.”

Irvine wound up with 12 hits. Filia scored two runs, had a double and was intentionally walked twice, Lockwood had a walk and a hit and scored a run, second baseman Patrick Hackworth had two walks, scored a run and a had a hit, Leonard Memon had two hits and reached on a hit batter, Hicks had two hits and an RBI and Lyman had a hit and two RBI.

RELATED STORIES:

–Lockwood and Filia team up to help Vaqueros reach playoffs

–Irvine fans get a better view of the action during home games

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com