What a fitting way to close out a great era of Pacifica baseball.
The Pacifica Lions took home the Peninsula Colt League championship with an 11-1 win in the playoff championship game over the C&L Mudcats last Thursday at Lara Field.
It was a celebrated win, sure, but more was it saw a core group that has played together since their 5-year-old tee-ball season celebrate one last big win in style.
“The kids were obviously happy,” Lions manager Nate Uter said. “They are a group of kids that have split off into different groups for high school, so it was good to get them all back together for Pacifica.”
It was an unlikely matchup that pitted Pacifica against C&L in the postseason finale. The San Bruno Orioles (15-3) had cruised to the regular-season title, with Pacifica finishing two games back in second place in the PCL standings.
In the postseason semifinals, however, C&L upset San Bruno with a 6-1 victory to set up the tournament finale against the Lions.
“We, of course, expected to see [San Bruno] and wanted to see them,” Nate Uter said. “But it didn’t work out for them.”
Pacifica came out swinging against C&L, scoring five runs in the first and four more in the second. Garrett Carlson had a big swing of the bat in the first, hitting a pop-up behind the drawn in infield that went for an error to score Connor Uter, giving the Lions a 3-0 lead. Cam Meyer followed with a two-run single to make it 5-0.
In the second, Carlson added to his highlight reel with a bases-clearing double to score Connor Uter, Drew Azzopardi and Dylan Decker to up the lead to 8-0. Carlson then stole third base and later scored on an RBI groundout by Meyer.
Meyer went the distance on the mound, working all five innings in the mercy-rule win. He allowed one run on five hits while striking out two.
“He was just mixing speeds and keeping the kids off balance,” Nate Uter said. “I’ve got to say, they really hit the crap out of the ball. Our defense just made some great plays.”
Left fielder Dillon Arrastio showed up with two clutch defensive plays. In the third, he started the inning by making a running catch near the line in left. Then in the fifth, he made a diving catch on a ball into the left-center gap.
“In each case, they would have been extra-base hits that he basically stole,” Nate Uter said.
In the bottom of the fifth, Pacifica rallied to win via mercy-rule walk-off. Michael Reyes led off with a walk. Then with two outs, Julian Martinez walked. Connor Uter followed with an RBI single. And after a walk to Azzopardi to load the bases, Dylan Dekker singled home Martinez to end it.
Many of the Lions players have had a storied run through their eight years playing together. The highlight came two years ago in District 52 Majors play when a core quartet of Martinez, Azzopardi, Carlson and Henry White reached the Section 3 finals.
“That was the funnest part was getting them back together and seeing them all succeed,” Nate Uter said.
With the win, Pacifica earned the right to represent the PCL in the Colt League regional playoffs, starting next Monday at Washington Park in Burlingame. The Lions, however, declined the bid due to conflicting summer schedules of many of their players.
The rest of the Pacifca Lions roster included: Matt Balmy, Corey O’Brien, Zach Allen, David Velis, Dominic Gordon, Giovanni Thompson, Justin Quinn, Blyak Citrino, Michael Caurteruccio and Robert Hirsch.