Spartans’ comeback attempt on Trojans falls short, falls out of playoff race

Strathmore’s longest run into the postseason during the modern playoff era ends in the Division VI semifinals

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

STRATHMORE – Spartans’ head coach Thad Reece commented after his third-seeded team’s 4-3 loss to the seventh-seeded Foothill Trojans in the Division VI semifinals on Wednesday, May 15, that “baseball is a game of inches.” The statement had rung true only minutes earlier.

Strathmore (16-10-1, 8-4) had clawed their way back to within one run, 4-3, of Foothill (13-15, 5-10), and in the bottom of the seventh inning they had a chance to at least force extra innings. John Leal stood just ninety feet away on third with no outs. He had driven in the run which brought Strathmore within a single run during his at bat.

Teammate Rigo Alvarez hit a chopper to the Foothill’s third baseman. Instead of retreating back to the bag, Leal took off toward home. The third baseman saw this, and immediately threw home. Leal plowed through the Trojan’s catcher instead of trying to slide around the tag. Despite the catcher dropping the ball, the contact resulted in an out due to malicious contact.

“I was trying to get him to come back,” Reece said. “That was the run to tie the game, and if nothing else get us into extra innings.”

Both teams cleared the dugout after when a scuffle broke out after the play at home. After the umpires, and coaches got everything under control only Leal was ejected.

Strathmore never got another player on as the next two Spartans struck out to end the game.

“It is all about the little things, and when you are playing a good team this is what happens,” Reece said.

Foothill jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Reyes Ramirez hit a blooper to shallow right field with runners on second and third scoring the first run of the game. After Strathmore loaded the bases, Isaiah Garcia hit a two RBI single to center to make it 3-0. Tyler Hill drove in one more run on a single.

Strathmore had difficulty chipping away at Foothill’s lead considering the Trojans were throwing their ace, Andrew Chavira. In the fifth came their best chance to score multiple runs when they loaded the bases with no outs, but were only able to score one.

Still trailing 4-1, Strathmore remained patient. They were waiting for a position move Foothill finally made in the sixth. With one out, Foothill took Chavira off the mound, and placed him in center field. The hope was, since they had a good lead, to keep his pitch count down, and save him for the championship game on Saturday.

The Trojans brought in Hector Bernal to close out the game. He walked two of his first three batters, and Strathmore scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-2. He got out of the inning, but had trouble in the seventh as well.

Feeling their lead slip away, Foothill re-entered Chavira back on the mound where he closed out the game. Although, Foothill got the win, Chavira pitched over the desired amount, and can’t throw on Saturday.

This is the furthest any Strathmore team has made it in the postseason, and while the future looks bright for the Spartans, Reece is sorry for the senior who will not be around anymore.

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