Leave it to New Roads School to carry the mantle for Santa Monica baseball.
As the only local team to advance to the playoffs this year, the Jaguars are making the most of their opportunity in the CIF Southern Section Division 7 bracket.
Following back-to-back victories, New Roads has reached the quarterfinals and will now face Victorville-Excelsior Charter on the road at 3:15 p.m. Friday.
Never mind that the Jaguars have their work cut out for them against an Excelsior Charter squad that has lost just one game all season. Never mind that they’ll be playing without senior rightfielder Jake Boyle, their leading hitter, who broke his thumb in the first round of the postseason.
With junior Jesse Blanco on the mound, they’re hoping to put forth a performance to be proud of after being trounced by Excelsior in the postseason last year. They’ve made the playoffs seven years in a row.
“Our team is motivated to make a better showing,” coach Matt Steinhaus said. “We think we have a good grip on some of their best players. They’re super-strong, and we know how good they are having drawn them in last year’s bracket. But [the guys] are motivated by the idea that we’ve seen them before.”
New Roads (13-5) began its postseason with a 12-2 rout of Lawndale-Environmental Charter on May 20 at Clover Park in Santa Monica, pulling away with six runs in the bottom of the second inning. Senior catcher Kento Orii had three hits and three RBI, while Boyle added two runs and three stolen bases.
Boyle broke his left thumb on a collision with Brandon Deutsch on a sixth-inning fly ball in the outfield.
“It’s tough,” Steinhaus said of Boyle’s injury. “He’s not really replaceable.”
The Jaguars pressed on anyway, ousting Moreno Valley-Calvary Chapel with an 8-3 victory in the second round May 24 at Clover Park. Deutsch set the tone by retiring the first eight batters he faced, logging six strikeouts and no walks in a complete game.
“He was just on,” Steinhaus said. “He was very efficient. We felt like we had a good matchup on the mound. When Brandon came out sharp, we felt as though that was a really good indicator.”
Deutsch’s effort was coupled with a strong offensive effort that saw New Roads score eight or more runs for the fifth time in six games. Sophomore Alex Kop made a notable impact, going 2-for-4 with three RBI.
“I was really happy with how aggressive we were at the plate to complement a really good pitching performance,” Steinhaus said. “That all amounted to good.”
Steinhaus said his team is proud to be Santa Monica’s only representative in playoff baseball this year. Samohi posted a 14-14 record, St. Monica Catholic was 12-12 overall, Crossroads finished 14-11 and Pacifica Christian went 9-8.
“We get some bragging rights,” Steinhaus said. “And getting to the quarterfinals, this team has done a lot to accomplish that. It’s a really cool things for us.”