Bonita Drops 5-4 Stunner; Wake-up Call Comes Too Late

May 1, 2010
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Lefty Adam McCreery was mowing 'em down early.

Lefty Adam McCreery was mowing 'em down early.

A funny thing happened on the way to another Bonita victory. The Bearcats were upset, 5-4, to Diamond Ranch, a team that had not won on the road until Friday at Bonita.

“It just shows you that in baseball, it’s not over until you get 21 outs,” said Bonita head coach John Knott. “The bottom line is you’re going to have to stay focused the entire time.”

Bonita was definitely focused early. Bearcats starter Adam McCreery was dominant, pouring in strikes and getting ahead of hitters. Meanwhile, in the bottom of the first, Bonita scored three runs, the big blows coming on an RBI single by clean-up hitter Anthony Ramos and a 2-run double by Andrew Rojas.

McCreery continued to cruise through the second and third, the big left hander facing the minimum six batters. In the bottom of the third, Bonita tacked on a fourth run on a solo home run to left by senior first baseman Evan Highley.

Trailing 4-0 in the top of the fourth, the Panthers inched back into the game with a little help from the Bearcats. With one out, Rouric Bridgewater and Derek Goodwin singled. Then Bridgewater scored when Highley mishandled a wide throw across the diamond on an infield tapper by Marshal Alpi, which placed runners on the corners. McCreery then hit Ivan Hernandez to load the bases.

It looked as if McCreery was going to work out of any further trouble when he induced Nathan Schlatter to ground to Greg Victoria to third and the third baseman threw home to catcher Mark Lindsay for the force out. However, No. 8 and No. 9 hitters Chase Price and Andrew Miraflor singled, and suddenly the Panthers trailed by just a run, 4-3.

In the bottom half of the game-changing inning, Bonita sent six batters to the plate without scoring despite receiving the benefit of two walks, a hit batter and a single by Victoria. A key 5-4-3 double play helped erase what looked like a promising inning after Thomas Castro had walked and Victoria had singled to start the frame. With two outs, Bonita managed to load the bases, but Panthers starter Kevin Lengyel wiggled off the hook when Ramos flied to left for the third out.

In the fifth, Diamond Bar finally got even. After a fantastic diving catch by Matt Gelalich on a sinking line drive by Gus Miramontes, McCreery walked Bridgewater who later advanced to second on a passed ball. Goodwin then grounded to short, but when Bridgewater bolted for third, Brian Tuttle threw to third to cut him down, but the ball arrived before Victoria was there to receive it and Bridgewater scored. McCreery got the next two batters, stranding Goodwin at third.

Tied 4-4, both teams came up empty in the sixth, but starting Panthers Lengyel appeared to be growing both stronger and more confident, setting all six batters he faced in the fifth and sixth.

Hard-throwing Josh Yepez relieved McCreery in the 7th inning.

Hard-throwing Josh Yepez relieved McCreery in the 7th inning.

In the top of the seventh, relief pitcher Josh Yepez entered the game for Bonita. After getting Miramontes to fly out to left, Bridgewater doubled on a 3-2 pitch and advanced to third on an errant pick-off attempt, which Bonita calls its “Spaghetti” play. Goodwin followed with a sacrifice fly and suddenly Diamond Ranch was three outs away from victory.

But Bonita has a potent offensive line-up, boasting a team batting average of .360. Diamond Branch brought in Miramontes to try to quiet the top-hitting team and nail down the final three outs. After striking out Gelalich, the team’s leading hitter, Lengyl yielded a single to Highley . Ramos grounded to short for the second out, but Highley advanced to second on the throw to first. Miramontes then hit Tuttle, putting runners at first and second with two outs. Up came catcher Lindsay, who quickly fell behind in the count 0-2. One pitch away from victory, but with a pitch to waste, Miramontes threw a hard high and tight inside fastball striking Lindsay flush on the jaw.

Play stopped for several minutes as team officials tended to Lindsay. Amazingly, Lindsay was sitting up and he was conscious, but the tough backstop and indeed one of the great stories for Bonita this year, was done for the afternoon. Cody Sykes ran for Lindsay.

With the bases loaded, a single away from tying or winning the game, Rojas stepped into the batter’s box. He owned half the team’s RBIs and had just missed a home run in the third when his ball was chased down at the left field fence. Rojas clutched up and put a good swing on the ball, but his sinking line drive down the right field line was finally corralled, and the game was over. Diamond Ranch had prevailed  5-4, gaining a measure of revenge and respect after losing to Bonita 13-10 in their home yard earlier in the weeki.

“This is exactly what a CIF playoff game is like,” Knott said moments after addressing his team, no doubt shaken by the dramatic turn of events and not knowing the extent of the injury to Lindsay. “You come out and maybe you play a team that on paper you think you should beat. You score a few runs early and you settle, and then you become vulnerable, and all of a sudden you feel the pressure of the game just change.”

Bonita let Diamond Ranch hang around, and once the Panthers got comfortable they made life uncomfortable for their hosts.

“We’ll live with the results of what happened,” Knott said. “We’ll reassess and try again tomorrow.”

With the loss, Bonita’s overall record drops to 15-4-1 and 8-2 in league. Next week, the Bearcats play a pair against Wilson and finish the regular season the ensuring week with a pair against non-league opponent Walnut.

Few championship seasons are ever achieved without facing a few potholes and bumps in the road.

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