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San Clemente secures title after late-inning drama
SAN CLEMENTE — After 14 years had passed since its last league title, what was a couple of extra innings for the San Clemente baseball team?
With two runners on and two outs in the ninth, San Clemente’s Connor Sealey hit an RBI single to beat Mission Viejo, 4-3, and clinch at least a share of the Sea View League title on Friday at San Clemente High.
“It’s crazy,” Sealey said. “It hasn't been done in so long. We wanted nothing more than to win league and go into CIF with that confidence on our shoulders.”
Dave Gellalty, San Clemente’s coach since 1995 and a former Tritons player, knew the importance of the program’s first league title since 2001.
“We’ve had several goals and one of them is to win a league championship,” Gellalty said. “It’s been a long time coming. These guys earned it.”
San Clemente (21-6, 9-1), which can win the title outright with a win over San Juan Hills on Tuesday, got off to a good start before things turned nervewracking in the late innings.
In the first, Lucas Herbert hit a home run that carried over the left field hill and the tall fence at Sisca Field to put San Clemente ahead, 1-0. Sealey added to the lead later in the inning, knocking in Brett O’Toole with a single.
Tanner Brubaker launched another ball into the left field jet stream for a solo home run in the second and a 3-0 lead for San Clemente.
“At first, we were really confident,” Sealey said, “but they battled back. They had the fight in them.”
Mission Viejo (19-10, 7-3) scored its first run in the fourth with an RBI single by Zack Sharpley, and the Diablos tied the score with some crafty base running in the sixth.
Tyler Odekirk led off the sixth with a single and worked his way around to third base as Sharpley, who reached base on an error, advanced to second. In the next at-bat, Sharpley took off toward third and slipped, drawing a pick-off throw to second. The pick-off throw triggered Odekirk to sprint home, and he beat the tag to score while Sharpley went to third.
“We ran a play,” Mission Viejo coach Chris Ashbach said of Odekirk’s run. “The second one wasn’t planned.”
The Dibalos’ second run of the inning came when Sharpley ran home on a pick-off error and tied the score, 3-3.
The game advanced to the ninth, where Sealey knocked in Herbert from second base and brought home a league title for the Tritons.