Hilmar baseball overcame a five-run deficit in the seventh inning to defeat Ceres High on Thursday in dramatic fashion, 11-10.
“We've been talking about it all year, which is how to respond when we are down in games, and there is a sense of confidence we built over a period of time,” said Hilmar head coach Bobby Swedberg. “They have had taste of success during the year and when you get momentum going it gives you confidence.”
The Yellowjackets walked seven times in the seventh inning alone and went on to score six runs that ended with a Jarrod Willis RBI single to end the rally with the victory in an unbelievable conclusion.
“It’s was crazy,” said Swedberg. “They battled today and surprised themselves that’s for sure.”
The two-game non-league series began at the Bulldogs' home with a 12-4 loss by the ‘Jackets.
Hilmar, which had lost two straight games heading into Thursday’s matchup, struggled the past two games, getting outscored 23-5.
Ceres went up early on Hilmar, building a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom half of the third.
From there Hilmar scored two in the third followed by three in the fifth, but the Ceres Bulldogs still led 6-5.
“We were fighting from the start. We knew this would be a good test for us,” said Swedberg.
With a one-run difference, Ceres came back to score four runs in the top of the seventh, extending its lead to 10-5 heading into the final three outs.
Senior Noah Batista then led off the seventh inning with a double after the ball touched the fence.
“Noah really set the tempo up for us in that inning and then hitting became contagious after that,” said Swedberg.
After Batista got on, Hilmar went on to walk seven batters in the inning alone, setting up Willis with a 10-10 ball game and bases loaded.
Willis went opposite field and drove in the game winner in the bottom half in walk off fashion.
“We were chasing the whole game,” said Swedberg. “Our guys weren’t fazed that Ceres scored in the seventh. It was big momentum for us to make things happen.”
Hilmar finished the game with 13 walks and six hits.
Alex Chavez was 1 for 3 with two walks and scored three times. Preston Costa was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI and Willis was 2 for 5 with 4 RBI.
Starting pitcher Zach Berberia tossed six innings and gave up 10 runs on eight hits and struck out five.
Wyatt Amaral came in to relieve Berberia in the seventh and retired the side.
“Zach and our offense were able to at least keep it somewhat close,” Swedberg added.