Varsity Baseball wins absolute stunner against Alta Loma at home


Avery Rosas

Bulldogs swarm the field after freshman Elijah Duarte forces an error at shortstop for a walkoff win.

Avery Rosas, Sports Editor

On Thursday, April 13, Ayala varsity baseball took the field on a cold afternoon against the Alta Loma Braves for the second time in two games. The previous game was held at Alta Loma High and ended with a 7-5 final score with Ayala on top.

Taking the mound for the Bulldogs was junior Matthew Yarc who got off on the right foot by striking out the side in the top of the first, hopefully setting the tone for a good outing in the game.

Marcus Galvan led off the bottom of the first and singled to center, advancing promptly to second on a stolen base. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t last long at second base as he’d be picked off before he could return to second on the throw. Sophomore Aiden Erlandsen, batting second, singled and stole second ahead of a swinging strikeout from senior Ethan Nuñez. Junior Andrew Torres would single in Erlandsen at second for the first run of the game, giving the Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead.

Torres would steal second, however freshman Caleb Trugman grounded out to second to end the inning before any more damage was done.

Yarc would get back on the mound to have a shutdown inning after getting the lead, however he would end up allowing 3 straight hits to load the bases with no outs. He would get Alta Loma’s #7 hitter senior Benjamin Lautenslager caught looking to get closer to escaping the inning. Instead, Alta Loma’s #8 hitter Andrew Galindo slapped a double to center and score 2 runs, with a bad angle on the hop allowing another run to score on the E8. Very quickly, things had gotten out of hand. Yarc tried to battle back on the next hitter and issued a walk. With the lineup flipped over, he was able to get leadoff hitter Tucker Kraushaar to fly out to center field. After yet another walk loaded the bases again, a grounder to third secured the last out of the inning.

Ayala would get back to the plate but would go down quietly aside from a hit to right.

Another inning meant another chance for Yarc to get back on track and set the tone for the rest of the game. A single started the inning before a flyout to left and another hit. He was able to battle back and catch #7 hitter Lautenslager looking for a second time in two innings. With two outs, the inning had looked like it was coming to a close. On an 0-1 pitch, however, a single was laced into center to score another run. Yarc was able to get #9 hitter David Jimenez Jr to strike out looking before any more damage was done.

In the bottom of the third, a single from Galvan and a walk to Erlandsen set up shop early for the Bulldogs who quickly needed some life back in their dugout. Two flyouts to center field would not do the trick. A groundout to third ended the inning.

Junior Matthew Yarc did all he could in his 3.2 innings of work to keep Ayala in the game, eventually earning a no-decision in the game with 7 strikeouts. (Avery Rosas)

Having already allowed 7 hits through 3 innings, Yarc went back out looking for as clean an inning as possible. Once again, it didn’t look like that was going to happen. A single led off the inning before a popout to the catcher and 2 more singles, loading the bases with only one out in the inning once again. A strikeout looking got Yarc closer to escaping the inning once again, only before another walk allowed the runner on third to walk home. At this point, Yarc had tallied 81 pitches in the outing and was taken out with 2 outs and the bases loaded.

Senior Cadin Gates entered to try and close the book on Yarc’s outing, doing just that with a swinging strike on a fastball to get the third out and preserve the deficit.

Once again, in the bottom of the inning, the Ayala had 2 straight baserunners to put them in position to start scoring some runs. Once again… they couldn’t come up with any runs. A fielders choice eliminated the runner on first and put the runner on second at third with one out. Runners on the corners warranted a fly ball to get at least one run in, which is just what happened, in a way. A shallow fly ball to right was caught in front of the foul line, prompting senior Jake Lemoine to tag from third.

A strong throw from right field looked like it would be a vain attempt to nab the runner at home, however it was anything but. The throw perfectly short-hopped the catcher to allow him to tag Lemoine and end the inning.

Gates came back in and got a groundout to third ahead of a single to the #9 hitter Jimenez Jr. With the lineup once again turning over, Gates got leadoff hitter Kraushaar to hit a roundball to third; the ball was handled fine on the throw to first, and while Jimenez Jr. attempted to advance to third, a laser from third was able to cut him down with time to spare. Just your standard 5-3-5 double play.

More of the same from the Bulldogs saw a leadoff hit in the bottom of the fifth before a flyout to center, a groundout to short and a popout to third to end the inning.

For the first time all game, in the top of the sixth, Ayala pitchers were able to notch a 1-2-3 inning on a comebacker to the pitcher followed by a flyout and lineout to right.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Lemoine was able to make up for his baserunning mistake in the 4th by crushing a pulled fly ball into the windbreak in right field to get the Bulldogs back into action and cut the lead to 5-2.

The pitcher on the mound during all of this was #16 Moe Baron, who had totaled up a whopping one strikeout through the 5.1 innings he had thrown to this point. A groundout to short got him another out closer to an end to the inning before #26 sophomore Elijah Ybañez came in to hit for Duarte. After a 6 pitch battle to keep the inning alive, Baron was able to get him swinging for only his second strikeout of the game… and barked aimlessly to Ayala’s dugout as he scampered back to his dugout.

Ayala hitters wouldn’t prove to have taken that lightly.

The top of the seventh proved to create more concern for a possible comeback, as #8 hitter Andrew Galindo pimped a home run to left field with one on and two out to increase the lead to 7-2. Away dugout roared. The only sound coming from the home dugout was the echoed reverb of the away dugout.

Promptly, the inning ended. Ayala had some work to do.

#6 Dominic Paris came in to relieve Baron who had taken over at first. His first batter ended with a walk. He got back on track with his second hitter with a flyout to right. After that, not much went right. A single got hitter to first and second, and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bags. An unassisted groundout to third allowed a run to score, putting the scoreboard at 2 outs with a 7-3 score. Another walk loaded the bases again, and a double to left field scored 2. Very quickly, there was life again. Sophomore Thomas Estepa stepped up to the plate with the game on the line and laced a liner that took a bad hop to sneak past the shortstop.

That hop took the ball all the way down the left field line, and on their last breaths, Ayala was able to overcome what looked, at one point, like an insurmountable deficit. The game was even, 7-7.

Paris was out before recording 3 outs with a runner still at second. #4 Evan Salcido for Alta Loma came in to try and preserve the game for the Braves.

Sophomore Thomas Estapa trots home to score the winning run for Ayala in their 6-run 7th inning. (Avery Rosas)

Duarte took back his spot in the lineup and hit a routine grounder to short. Shortstop clutched to second, yet there was nobody to cover his imaginary runner at first. With a rushed throw to first, he sailed the baseball 3 feet above the first baseman’s head. Estapa was running the whole time. After a hesitation from both umpires to determine if the ball stayed in play, they ruled it a live ball and the end of the game. Ayala had proved victorious, 8-7 the final score.

Ayala will continue their momentum against Claremont next Tuesday at home, and Alta Loma will try to figure things out at a neutral site against Highland tomorrow, Saturday the 15th.

Final box score:

Alta Loma: 0 – 3 – 1 – 1 – 0 – 0 – 2 : 7

Ayala: 1 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 1 – 6 : 8

(W) – Gates (12) – 3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 K

(L) – Paris – 0.2 IP, 2 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB

Lemoine (12) – 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Galvan (12) – 3 for 4

Estapa (10) – 3 for 4, 2B, R, 2 RBI