Tuesday's baseball playoff bout in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I bracket was an elimination game for No. 5 Pitman and No. 3 St. Mary's High and their varsity baseball teams, and in the end only one team was moving on while the other was calling it a year.
The Pride of Pitman, coming off a mercy-rule loss on Monday at the hands of No. 1 Tracy, responded well, especially starting pitcher Brett Hagen who was on the mound after a short rest and pitched into the seventh.
Pitman battled early on and managed to make it a close game with St. Mary's until the final inning when the Rams won the game on a walk-off to end it 3-2 from University of Pacific's Klein Family Field.
“That's playoff baseball for you. St. Mary's was tough as usual and we just couldn't capitalize on some chances we had with runners in scoring position,” said Pitman head coach John Acha.
Senior Pride AJ Encalade put the Pride on the board first after drilling an RBI single to take a 1-0 lead early on.
The Rams tied it immediately before the second started to make it 1-1.
Nick Jones of Pitman then came through for his team after hitting a two-out RBI single with two strikes to go up 2-1 in the second.
Pitman stayed stagnant until the fourth when they loaded the bases and hoped to add on more runs.
Jones, who had a 10-pitch at-bat, was looking to break the game wide open but lined out to the shortstop to end the threat.
Hagen, who was on the mound, tossed 6 and 2/3 innings, allowing 10 hits, walking one while striking out seven.
“He gave us everything he had on short rest. He's a battler and we were just stretched thin on pitching after him,” said Acha.
Pitman used three pitchers the day prior—in just four innings of work—something unexpected and uncommon for them.
St. Mary's tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth before they finally set themselves up for a walk-off opportunity.
A walk-off double ensued in the bottom of the seventh inning, closing out the year for the Pride. Pitman ends the year with an overall record of 19-11.
“This season has been a lot of fun because of the group we had,” said Acha. “Great seniors that I will never forget. The improvements this team made starting from fall ball and in the weight room, through the struggles at the beginning of the season to now, is what I love about coaching.”