SAMOHI — The staff ace was on the mound and the stands were filled with screaming fans giving the blue and gold faithful reason to be optimistic, but it was a lack of hitting that doomed the Vikings’ playoff run.
Senior pitcher Tyler Skaggs, making his first appearance in nearly a month, kept the game close for most of the afternoon giving Samohi’s hitters time to figure out Los Altos’ starter Ronnie Blagg, but that time never came as the Vikings lost the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division III second round playoff game 1-3.
“We played well on defense, but we couldn’t score,” Skaggs said. “That’s been our problem all year.”
On a day when runs were at a premium, the Vikings were hard pressed to mount rallies against Blagg, who tossed a complete game in the victory. The Vikings’ lone rally came during the fourth inning with Samohi trailing 0-2.
With two out in the inning, senior Michael Alonge hit a single to right field. Freshman Adam Padilla followed with a walk giving the Vikings runners on first and second. Seldom used Alfredo Morales stepped into the batter’s box and slapped an RBI single to right scoring Alonge with Samohi’s first run of the game. Morales advanced to second as Los Altos attempted to make a play at the plate.
With the potential tying and go-ahead runs on board, Walker Dove drew a walk loading the bases.
Unfortunately Josh Huerta hit a fly ball to left field ending the Vikings’ rally and ultimately their season.
“Words can’t explain how good this feels right now,” Blagg said. “I just tried to work ahead [in the count] all day and today it worked.”
Los Altos’ righty was able to consistently get first-pitch strikes for much of the game giving Samohi’s hitters little to work with.
“It was a good ball game,” Samohi Head Coach Rob Duron said. “We played well, they played a little better.”
Skaggs allowed just five hits while striking out nine in seven innings, but the hits Los Altos did get were often turned into runs. Justin Zamano collected Los Altos’ first hit of the game in the second inning and later scored on Michael Luna’s double to deep center field that just eluded Samohi center fielder Vince Lawrence.
The third inning looked like it may be a replay of the second as Los Altos’ Mario Carrillo led off the inning with a double to deep left. With a man in scoring position and no outs Skaggs was able to strike out the side ending the scoring threat buying the Vikings more time to create offense.
The Vikings appeared to be on the way to more runs in the fifth when senior Logan Whitchurch led off the inning with a bloop double to left field. Senior Colter Johnson successfully sacrificed Whitchurch to third on a grounder to shortstop. With the tying run 90 feet away, seniors Lawrence and Ricky Gomez both flied out to first base ending the Vikings’ last credible scoring chance.
“To battle against a guy like Skaggs was huge,” Los Altos Head Coach Andrew Formano said. “He was damn near unhittable.”
The baseball season may have come to an end for the rest of the team, but not for Skaggs. The highly-coveted lefty is expected to be an early round pick in June’s Major League Draft.
He has committed to Cal State Fullerton, but those close to him say he is more than likely going to make the jump from high school to the pros and should be playing minor league baseball this summer.