SAMOHI — For six innings, the Vikings had Palos Verdes’ number.
The problem is high school baseball games are scheduled to go seven and in the case of Saturday’s contest they sometimes go into extra frames where Palos Verdes was able to steal a 7-5 victory in 10 innings.
The Vikings entered the top of the seventh nursing a 5-4 lead against the fifth best team in the latest CIF-SS Division II poll with their closer Drew Hammond on the mound. He had yet to give up an earned run all season and a victory appeared to be within reach. Palos Verdes’ Stephen Takahashi led off the inning with a single to right field. Hammond regained his composure and struck out the next man, Cole Trezek for the first out of the seventh, but not before a passed ball advanced Takahashi.
With a man on second PV’s Matt Blankenship drew a walk and promptly stole second as part of a double steal that put a pair of runners in scoring position. This set the stage for J.R. Aguirre to drive in the tying run with a sacrifice fly to left field, sending the game into extra innings.
“I need to come with more pitches,” said Hammond, who often relies on the fast ball to retire batters. “I didn’t get the guy off balance.”
Freshman Adam Padilla entered the game for Hammond in the eighth and kept PV’s hitters at bay for parts of three innings. He cruised until the 10th when he allowed a lead off double to PV’s Nate Halverson.
Facing a tough week ahead against Ocean League rival Beverly Hills, Samohi’s Head Coach allowed Padilla to stay in the game to preserve his pitchers for later in the week.
That decision proved to be pivotal as Padilla allowed the next man up, Justin Dornblaser, to bunt for a single allowing Halverson to advance to third.
With men on the corners, Padilla threw a curve ball that PV’s Satoshi Mizutani laced into left field, bringing home the winning run in the form of Halverson.
“I went up [to the plate] looking for a fresh start,” said Mizutani, who was 0-for-4 leading up to that crucial moment.
His fifth at-bat wound up being the key to victory for PV, who scored an insurance run later in the inning off Samohi reliever Ethan Corn.
With the loss, Samohi’s record is now 14-11 and 5-1 in league. Next up for the Vikings are a pair of games against rival Beverly Hills. The first game of the set will be at Samohi on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m.
“We’ll be treating the games against Beverly Hills like the playoffs,” Duron said. “We can’t afford to look past people.”
The Vikings are currently tied with Culver City for first place in the Ocean League.