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Foothill can't get past first round this time
SANTA ANA - Vince Brown has been coaching baseball a long time. He knows how difficult the playoffs can be.
“There are a lot of good teams sitting around right now who’ve just called it a year,” Brown said, “and they’re talking about ‘what if’ and ‘what could have.’”
Brown’s Foothill team is one of them.
The Knights, seeded second in CIF-SS Division 2, lost to Carter of Rialto, 3-1, Friday in a first-round playoff game at Foothill.
Foothill had its leadoff batter on base in three of the game’s seven innings. The Knights had the tying run on base with no outs in the seventh.
They did not do what Carter did – get timely hits.
The Lions scored two runs in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead. Eduardo Martinez led off with a single, Ryan Maestas followed with a walk, both advanced on Tino Douglas’ sacrifice bunt, Martinez scored on Isaiah Davis’ single and Maestas scored on Chris Lujan’s sacrifice fly.
Foothill’s run came in the fourth inning. Brandon Hudson doubled and scored on Evan Mickelson’s single to make it 2-1.
Carter got an unearned run in the sixth inning.
Foothill threatened in the bottom of the seventh. Hudson reached on an error and went to second base on a single by Sebastian Lopez. A Foothill pinch-runner was picked off of second base for the first out.
After Mickelson walked, Carter relief pitcher Anthony Villegas got the next two batters out to end the game and start the “what if … “ and “what could have …” talk.
Foothill (22-9) won the North Hills League championship with an 11-1 league record. The Knights advanced to the Division 1 championship game a year ago.
“I told out kids that no matter what happens in this tournament, they’re still champions,” Brown said. “We played like champions and we practiced like champions. Today we needed one or two more hits and sometimes that’s the way it happens.”
Lopez pitched seven innings and got his first loss of the season. He concluded his senior year 10-1 with a 1.64 ERA. Lopez had not lost a game since April 15, 2014.
Carter starting pitcher Ricky Hernandez threw six innings, allowed all six Foothill hits and one earned run with no walks. Hernandez pitched the final three innings of Carter’s 1-0, 10-inning win over Mayfair of Lakewood in the wild-card round Wednesday.
Hernandez, 6-4 with a 2.79 ERA, had a typical week, Carter coach Samuel Lopez said.
“That’s been him all season,” Lopez said. “He hits his spots, he keeps the ball down and the defense usually plays well behind him.
Carter, in its seventh year of varsity baseball, has not advanced beyond the second round in CIF baseball. The Lions, a Division 3 team last year, were league champions in 2013 and ’14.
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