SANTA CLARA — There are seven ways a baseball player can reach first base: a hit, a walk, a fielder’s choice, an error, hit by pitch, dropped third strike and defensive interference.
The Capuchino baseball team, seeded second, used four of them during a 12-5 win over third-seeded The King’s Academy in a Central Coast Section Division V semifinal game at Mission College in Santa Clara Tuesday.
With the victory, the Mustangs move into Thursday’s championship game Thursday at San Jose’s Excite Ballpark, Capuchino’s first CCS finals appearance since losing 4-0 to St. Francis in 1981.
They’ll take on another PAL opponent in the finals when they take on Hillsdale. The eighth-seeded Knights slipped past No. 4 Monte Vista Christian, 2-1.
If you count a Knights’ fielder’s choice, the teams combined for five of the seven ways to get on base. Add in seven hits for the Mustangs and 12 for TKA and there were a lot of base runners.
Capuchino (19-9) had the bulk of them, 22 times getting on base. In addition to their seven hits, the Mustangs walked 12 times, reached on three errors and were hit by a pitch twice. And in the end, left 10 runners on.
In addition to dozen hits by TKA (11-15-1), they walked twice, had two runner reach on error, one hit batter and reached on the aforementioned fielder’s choice. They, too, left 10 runners on base and, if you’re counting at home, that’s a combined 40 base runners in the game.
All of which led to some interesting stat lines. Capuchino clean-up hitter Jacob Brewer made five plate appearances — without actually getting an official at-bat. He drew walks in his first four trips to the plate and was hit by a pitch during his fifth.
Aiden Mendel had two official at-bats, but drew a pair of bases-loaded walks to plate two runs and eventually, the Mustangs left the bases loaded three times: in the first, second and sixth innings.
And of all those hits, there was only one for extra bases:a double from Capuchino’s No. 9 hitter Cameron Chin in the bottom of the sixth.
“The funny thing is, we preach being aggressive (at the plate),” said Capuchino manager Matt Wilson. “Today it didn’t really work out that way.”
Tuesday’s game was a far cry from the two regular-season games the teams played during the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division schedule. The Mustangs swept the Knights 2-1 and 4-1.
“It was a strange one (Tuesday),” Wilson said. “Lots of ups and downs. I never felt comfortable.”
That uneasy feeling started right away as King’s got a one-out, bloop single and stolen base from Trevor Polk in the top of the first, but was stranded. Capuchino came up in the bottom of the first and loaded the bases on three walks, but a groundout ended then threat.
The Knights took a 2-0 lead in the second, but Capuchino came back with three in the bottom of the frame. The Mustangs walked three more times, with their first run scoring on a Nate Balch bases-loaded hot shot to first base that was booted away, enabling Sebastian Conclara scoring on the play. The game was tied at 2 when Ryan Burton, who went 3 of 4 on the day, dumped a single into center and Mendel drew an RBI walk for a 3-2 lead.
The Knights came right back to tie it in the top of the third when Ethan Johnson’s fly ball to center was mishandled for a two-base error. He came around to score on a Ryan Kinoshita single.
King’s retook the lead with a run in the top of the fourth for a 4-3 advantage before the Mustangs took control of the game in the bottom of the inning with six runs. Walks, again, factored into the rally, as Capuchino drew four more in the inning. All four of those runners scored, with Mendel, Travis Ciardella, Conclara and Joe Tressitte all collecting RBIs as the Mustangs took a 9-4 lead.
The Knights got closer with a run in the fifth, but the Mustangs countered, again, with a run in the bottom of the frame, with Mendel picking up his game-high third RBI on the day.
Balch and Burton each added RBIs during a two-run rally in the bottom of the sixth for the final runs of the game.
“We had good plate discipline,” Wilson said. “We got those timely hits when we needed to.”
That was more than enough offense for Balch, who picked up the win on the mound. Despite battling through adversity all game long, he still pitched into the sixth inning. While he gave up 11 hits, the Knights only managed five runs. He struck out five and walked only two.
“Balch did a great job. He’s been doing that all year,” Wilson said. “I love his fire.”
No. 8 Hillsdale 2, No. 4 Monte Vista Christian 1
The Knights scored two runs in the top of the second and then withstood a Mustangs’ rally in the bottom of the seventh to pull out the win and advance to the CCS Division V championship game for the first time since 2010.
Blake Cowans provided the offense for Hillsdale (18-9), blasting a two-run double. It was one of two hits on the day for Cowans, who was joined by Jackson Sierra and Aidan Sakai, who both had a double as well.
Josh Mayol earned the win on the mound, pitching a complete game, allowing a run while scattering six hits and striking out three.
No. 2 Alisal 5, No. 6 Woodside Priory 2
The Trojans scored three in the first and added two more in the second to propel them to the Division IV semifinal win over the Panthers.
It will be Alisal’s first CCS championship appearance in the school’s 58-year history.
Priory (16-2) scored single runs in the second and sixth innings, with Matthew Sun collecting an RBI.
Evan Vagelos, Adam Collins, Michael Hildebrandt and Sun all had two hits for Priory.
No. 2 North Salinas 8, No. 3 Burlingame 2
The Panthers scored both their runs in the top of the seventh as their season ended in the CCS Division V semifinals with the loss to the Vikings.
Olivia Fleming and Lily Greiner each had an RBI for Burlingame (8-13-1). Nora Leslie went 3 for 3 with a run scored, while Giana Johnson and Keira Parker each had two hits, including a double for each.
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