Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Sacred Heart Prep pitcher Will Nahmens did everything to give his team a chance to win. He pitched six innings, allowing just six hits and striking out five and walking one in a 4-0 loss to Pacific Grove.
The Sacred Heart Prep baseball team became just the latest to attempt what no other team has accomplished this season: beat an undefeated Pacific Grove squad.
“Why couldn’t it be us?” asked SHP manager Greg Franceschi.
The seventh-seeded Gator faced the No. 2-seed Breakers in a quarterfinal matchup Saturday afternoon at Sacred Heart Prep. And while the Gators hung with Pacific Grove, they could not solve Breakers’ starting pitcher Conyol Cody and failed to make plays when needed the most in a 4-0 loss to Pacific Grove.
“I thought we were in the game,” Franceschi said. “If we make a couple of plays…”
With the win, the Breakers improve to 29-0, while the Gator’ season comes to a close, finishing with a 19-10 mark.
SHP hung with the Breakers the entire game, thanks to a gutty pitching performance from Will Nahmens, who worked six innings, allowing six hits and striking out five and walking just one.
“He got stronger and stronger (as the game went on),” Franceshi said.
Pacific Grove scored a pair of runs in the fourth inning and added a couple of insurance runs in the sixth for the final score.
But even a perfect game from Nahmens would have meant the two teams were tied at zero because the Gator could muster little against Cody, who threw a complete game. SHP managed just three hits and while the Gators did draw four walks, those were more than offset by 11 strikeouts.
Not that the Gators didn’t have chances. They had runners at first and second with one out in the second inning, but Cody got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts. They had runners on first and second with two outs after back-to-back walks to Mike Covell and Will Reilly in the third inning, but again came up empty. In all, the Gators stranded eight baserunners.
“If you don’t get that big hit early … it’s tough trying to keep battling back,” Franceschi said. “Not for a lack of effort. The kids kept working at it.”
Nahmens, however, kept the Breakers bats in check. They had only one hit through the first three innings before a defensive mistake in the fourth resulted in Pacific Grove taking a 2-0 – all without benefit of a ball hit out of the infield. An infield hit and a walk put runners on first and second with no outs. Both runners moved up on a steal and wild pitch and following a strikeout, a ball was hit right to the SHP third baseman, with the runner at third breaking for the plate.
The third baseman failed to watch the ball all the way into his glove, however, and it glanced off it for an error and run scored. After a bunt single, the Gators tried to turn a double play on a grounder to shortstop, but the ball was hit too softly to get the runner at first, with a second run scoring on the play and 2-0 Pacific Grove lead.
In the sixth, the Breakers led off the inning with a double and a single to put runners at the corners. Again, a ball was hit right to a SHP infielder, this time the shortstop. With the runner breaking for the plate, the throw went home where the runner appeared dead to rights – until the throw glanced off the catcher’s mitt for another unearned run. The Breakers later executed a safety squeeze play to drive in the final run of the game.
“I knew we were going to have to play near perfect,” Franceschi said. “We make a mistake, they capitalized.”
Other CCS baseball action
No. 5-seed Menlo struggled all day with Soquel starting pitcher Chris Viall, who struck out 16 Menlo batters, but Menlo managed to come up with some timely hits and then benefitted from a call made only in high school to beat No. 4 Soquel 4-3 in a Division III quarterfinal game at St. Francis High School.
Soquel was threatening to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with runners on first and second with one out. A grounder was hit to Menlo shortstop Adam Greenstein, who attempted to turn a game-ending double play. The runner at second was called out but the throw to first was late.
The umpire ruled, however, the runner at second had slid past the base in an attempt to break up the double play – a no no in high school baseball. As such, the umpire ruled runner interference, the runner at first was called out and the game was over.
Menlo only had four hits on the day, but managed to pick up the win. Will King and Jared Lucian both drove in runs in the second inning, trimming Soquel’s lead to 3-2. Menlo tied the game on a Greenstein hit a chopper to third. The tying run came in to score and what turned out to be the game-winning run came around as well when the Soquel third baseman threw the ball away trying to get Greenstein.
With the win, Menlo advances to the semifinals for the fourth year in a row. It will play top-seeded Palma at 7 p.m. Tuesday at San Jose Municipal Stadium. Palma beat No. 9 Terra Nova 11-1 to advance.
In Division II play, 10th-seeded Burlingame saw its season end with a 6-1 loss to No. 5 Willow Glen.