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CVC runs out of answers in Division 6 final
RIVERSIDE – Disappointment, anguish and the all-too-abrupt ending to a remarkable season painted their faces with tears. Their vulnerable body language told the whole crushing story, inning by inning.
Every one of the 13 players on Capistrano Valley Christian's roster knew they'd let one slip away. And not just "one."
A handful of critical baserunning errors combined with the absence of one big hit doomed the Eagles (24-7) in an eight-inning, 4-2 loss to Desert Christian of Lancaster (25-3) in Saturday's CIF-SS Division 6 championship game at UC Riverside.
"Coming into the game I had a good feeling it was going to be a low-scoring, pitcher's-duel kind of game," CVC coach Clemente Bonilla said. "I thought that one mistake or one clutch moment would decide the game. I felt it could've gone either way."
Despite outhitting the Knights, 8-5, the Eagles left eight men on base and had another four thrown out on the basepaths - one at third, another at second and, most notably, two at the plate.
"It makes for excitement," Bonilla said of his team's aggressiveness.
Tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth, CVC's Kyle Pickell stepped to the plate with a runner on first and scorched a two-out double to the gap in right-center field.
As Jacen Carpenter rounded third, Knights center fielder Kiel Alcaraz's throw reached shortstop Chance Gusbeth, who finished the relay with a strike from the outfield grass to get Carpenter at the plate.
"That was a tremendous throw," Bonilla said. "It was a one-hop, perfect strike from the outfield to get probably our fastest guy. Hats off to them."
After stranding a one-out double in the sixth, CVC manufactured another scoring opportunity at two-all in the seventh.
A leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt, a flyout and a pair of walks loaded the bases for Parker Coss. Ahead 1-0 in the count, the Eagles' three-hole hitter flied out to right for the third out.
"We had the winning run 90 feet away," Bonilla said, "and we just couldn't get it in. Today wasn't our day."
After going seven strong innings and throwing a season-high 122 pitches, Eagles lefty Sam Eichler (12 strikeouts) was relieved by Coss, who Alcaraz chased with a leadoff triple.
With Carpenter now on the mound, Gusbeth, down 1-2 in the count, plated the go-ahead run with a single up the middle. Desert Christian added an insurance run soon after to double its lead.
"When Parker gave up that triple, Jacen looked over to me and gave me the sign, he wanted to come in," Bonilla said.
"I feel like I'm a player's coach and when a senior comes to me and says, 'I want the ball,' I'm going to give it to him."
Up two in the bottom of the eighth, Knights reliever Justin Tilton stranded a one-out single to hand Desert Christian its first championship in school history.
"After making the quarterfinals in 2010 and 2011, I started to get the feeling that Capistrano Valley Christian was the kind of program on its way to finding its name in the paper, moving on to finals," Bonilla said.
"It's our time now ... I think that CVC will make a name for itself in the future as a small school with a real good baseball program."