In another down-to-the-wire matchup following Tuesday’s epic 11-10 win over Mater Dei, the varsity baseball team survived again, defeating No. 7 seed Vista Murrieta (18-9 overall, 11-4 in Southwestern League) 6-3 on the road in 10 innings on Thursday afternoon to maintain its unblemished non-league record and stay alive in the CIF-SS Division I playoff bracket.
Starting Paul Giacomazzi ’16 on the mound because both Cameron Deere ’16 and Gabe Golob ’16 were burned in Tuesday’s win, the Wolverines went down 2-0 in the first inning, but clawed back into the game soon after. Giacomazzi regained his control on the mound and began to run through the Bronco lineup, and the Wolverines scored twice in the top of the fourth inning to tie the score at two apiece.
Harvard-Westlake was on the brink of elimination when Vista Murrieta scored its third run off Giacomazzi to take a 3-2 lead going into the last inning, but Jake Suddleson ’16 came up with a clutch home run in the top of the frame to even up the score again. Sophomore reliever Ben Geiger ’17, making his first career varsity playoff appearance, shut out Vista Murrieta in the bottom of the frame to take the game to extra innings.
Again, the Wolverines were on the edge of defeat when the Broncos hit a double with a man on first in the bottom of the eighth, but it was defense saving Harvard-Westlake this time. Suddleson tracked down the ball in right-center field, and a perfectly executed relay from Suddleson to second baseman Chase Aldridge ’15 to catcher Tom Fuller ’15 got to the plate in time to stop the lead runner and keep the game tied.
After Geiger came through with another scoreless inning in the ninth, Harvard-Westlake finally broke the game open in the tenth, as Leo Kaplan ’15 raked a two-run double before an unearned run gave the Wolverines a 6-3 lead. Geiger finished the deal with his fourth straight scoreless inning, and the Wolverines survived by the skin of their teeth once again to advance to the Round of 16.
Harvard-Westlake moves to 24-5 overall (7-5 in Mission League), and is now the only league team remaining in the playoffs after Alemany, Notre Dame and Loyola were all upset on Thursday. The Wolverines will finally get to return to their home field for their next contest against No. 10 seed El Dorado (21-8 overall, 11-1 in Crestview League), which is coming off a 6-0 first round win over Tustin, on Tuesday afternoon at O’Malley Family Field. Back at full strength pitching-wise, the Wolverines will likely start Deere, while El Dorado is expected to start Nick Sprengel ’15, who also started Thursday’s win. Harvard-Westlake is currently ranked sixth in California according to MaxPreps, while the Golden Hawks are ranked 47th.
Thursday’s game was filmed by Athletic Director Jason Kelly, and can be re-watched at the following link:
The full playoff bracket can be seen here: