Cleveland High freshman Anthony Del Angel takes a big cut Friday evening in Game 1; he later drove in the game-tying run in the seventh and the game-winning run in the ninth. (Herron photo)
Cleveland won the baseball battle but lost the war.
The Storm baseball team’s elation after Jaren Villa’s foul sacrifice fly ball scored Karter Weddle with the goa-head run Saturday afternoon, followed by reliever Joseph Stevenson setting down the Piedra Vista side in order in the top of the seventh for a 3-2 series victory quickly diminished.
It was soon determined that senior Logan Kinter – no disrespect to the versatile infielder/pitcher because it wasn’t his responsibility to count pitches – had exceeded the 120-pitch maximum for a three-day span.
Because of that, the Storm (20-8) forfeited their berth in the Class 5A quarterfinals, and the Panthers (17-12) will be there instead, facing District 1-5A runner-up Volcano Vista.
Cleveland had taken two games in the best-of-three first round, highlighted by an inconceivable 8-run rally in the bottom of the seventh Friday night.
It began innocently enough, with Silas Hilton slapping a single to left field. Anthony Del Angel hit into a fielder’s choice for the first out; you’ll hear his name again soon.
Brandon Hennessy reached on an infield single and pinch-hitter Malachi Jaramillo drew a walk to load the bases, giving the chilled fans something to cheer about.
Kinter then delivered a two-run double to right field and the Storm avoided what would have been their second shutout of the season.
Jaden Davis singled home the team’s third run, and Kinter made it 8-4 on that hit, thanks to an error.
Davis singled to center and the Storm had runners on the corners, and Chase Tyler singled home Davis, with Villa initially stopping at second and soon moved to third on a balk, with Tyler advancing to second.
Austin Barela’s sacrifice fly scored Villa to make it 8-6, but the Storm now had two outs. Tyler raced home on a wild pitch to make it 8-7.
Hilton came up again and walked, and scooted all the way to third on a wild pitch. Del Angel’s infield hit plated Hilton to make it 8-8; Hennessy struck out, sending the game into extra innings.
Kinter became the Storm’s sixth pitcher, facing four Panthers and walking one; the Storm’s 7-8-9 hitters each fanned in the bottom of the eighth.
After Kinter gave up a walk, a double and a fielder’s choice that loaded the bases in the ninth without an out, Stevenson entered the game.
He struck out two and got the third out on a fly ball to Del Angel in right.
Villa led off the Storm ninth with a walk and Tyler sacrificed him to second. Barela singled to center, with Villa stopping at third. Hilton, the clean-up batter, was intentionally walked, with the Panthers hoping to induce a double play to end the rally.
Del Angel hit a fly ball to center, deep enough to score Villa and the Storm completed a miraculous comeback.
PV showed plenty of offense in Game 2 on Saturday morning, posting an 11-3 victory to even the series.
CHS coach Shane Shallenberger said Davis “threw well,” but his team’s eight errors and a lot of stranded base runners paved the way for a downfall.
In what was supposed to be the decisive Game 3 Saturday afternoon, the Panthers led 1-0 after one inning, 2-0 after four and 3-0 as the Storm came to the plate in the fifth.
Davis led off with a homer, Villa reached on an error and Tyler singled, sending Villa to third and Tyler going to second on the right fielder’s error.
Barela’s sacrifice fly made it 3-2, and Tyler tied it on Hilton’s sinking sacrifice fly to left. Del Angel walked but Hennessy struck out, leaving it at 3-3.
Kinter, who pitched the first six innings, led off with a double and speedy Weddle ran for him. Josiah Armijo drew a walk as a pinch-hitter and Davis struck out, with a wild pitch sending Weddle to third, 90 feet away from winning the game.
And that’s what he did on Villa’s fly ball into foul territory in right field, where Dax Vigil made a great catch and accurate throw to the plate, just too late to nab Weddle.
Tyler struck out, but the Storm had a 4-3 lead.
Stevenson came on and got the save, on an attempted bunt single that the Storm defended, a popup to catcher Owen Bishop and a strikeout.
Kinter “had a really good series,” Shallenberger said, as he picked up two pitching victories and set the stage for the Game 3 winning run.
It’s just too bad his pitches weren’t being tracked – or tracked accurately.
“We worked hard to get here,” Shallenberger said after Game 3, before being alerted of the forfeit.