With an upset over Linden High under its belt, Hilmar High baseball planned on cruising by Dixon High, in a best two out of three series, on its way to the SJS Division V Championship game. Things didn’t quite go as smoothly as they hoped, though.
Hilmar (17-7 overall) did its job on Saturday with a 6-0 victory over the Rams (13-16 overall), claiming the win with bookend 3-run innings. But Tuesday’s matchup followed a different storyline; Hilmar’s defense lapsed, committing six errors, which led to a 7-1 victory for the Rams. With the series split, the two teams engaged in a second game on Tuesday to decide who would play in Monday’s championship game. After seven innings of close competition, the ‘Jackets came out on top over Dixon, 2-1.
“We told the players it was up to them,” Hilmar’s head coach Justin Steelman said. “They laid the ground work to get where they were and they had to become men to come back and take it.”
With pitcher Matt Tyler tired and slightly injured from Tuesday’s first game, Lucas Vaughn was called upon to man the hill for Hilmar. Vaughn and the ‘Jackets kept Dixon off balance for most of the game, relying on their defense to get the job done as they had all season. The Rams scored their sole run in the fifth inning.
With the Ram’s offense neutralized, Hilmar focused on its performance from the plate. In the third inning Chris Silva notched an RBI with a line drive single. Shortly afterwards, Roman Ramirez stole third base and then crossed home plate after a Ram fastball was crushed with a Hilmar bat.
“Our football team got to face Escalon in the section title game and now we’re hoping to do the same,” Steelman said.
Although Hilmar is hoping for a matchup with its rival, its opponent has yet to be decided. Whether it’s Escalon High or Capital Christian High, the ‘Jackets will be ready as they attempt to claim their second section championship of the year. Monday will mark the first time since 2009 that Hilmar baseball has participated in a section title game.