Bonita 3, Elsinore 1: Big Mac Serves Up a Whopper of a Game

May 20, 2010
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McCreery pitched a complete game three-hitter to defeat Elsinore, 3-1.

McCreery pitched a complete game three-hitter to defeat Elsinore, 3-1.

Sporting an impressive team batting average of .360 entering the first round of the CIF Division 3 Southern Section playoffs, the Bearcats resorted to little ball to escape with a 3-1 victory over the tenacious Elsinore Tigers on the Bearcats’ home field on Thursday.

The Bearcats were hitless against Elsinore ace Zach Varela through the first three innings before finally breaking through in the fourth. Varela hit leadoff hitter Robert Mier to give Bonita its first base runner. Bringing up a sacrifice situation, Matt Gelalich dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line that Tigers third baseman Andrew Willis threw away for a three-base error down the first base line, allowing Mier to circle the bases. Gelalich cruised into third.

Scoring the game’s first run lifted the pressure off the favored Bearcats and drew a huge sigh of relief from their fans.

The Bearcats scored a second run when Evan Highley grounded out to short to drive in Gelalich. After Anthony Ramos grounded out to third, Varela surrendered his first hit of the game, a solid single by Brian Tuttle. Andrew Rojas grounded out to short to end the inning.

For a ball that traveled just a few feet, it was the back-breaker and clincher for Bonita in what up until that point was a scoreless duel.

“The whole thing was to try to break the guy’s rhythm,” said Coach John Knott. “He had a perfect game. When Robert got hit by the pitch, the bunt was just to try to break his rhythm. We thought about doing a hit-and-run, something to put some pressure on these guys, because you’re not going to be able to get on a pitcher that’s grooving like this, that has the stuff that he has. We’re not going to get three hits and score a run, probably.”

Playing for the one run showed Knott’s supreme confidence in Adam McCreery, who basically matched Varela pitch for pitch. In the top of the fourth, the Tigers probably had their best chance to score courtesy of a pair of two-out free passes issued by the 6-foot-five southpaw. McCreery quickly got ahead of Matt Herring, 0-2, before Herring grounded to Highley at first for the third out.

Anthony Ramos doubled in the game's final run.

Anthony Ramos doubled in the game's final run.

Knott also tipped his hand earlier in the week when he selected McCreery to take the hill in the first CIF game.

“First thing, we have a lot of confidence in Adam,” Knott said moments after congratulating his team on the win and accept a pat on the back from Bonita Principal Bob Ketterling. “He’s thrown well his last few times out. I thought as the game got going, he got better. I’m proud of the way he handled himself.

“He had a couple on with two outs and then he executed a first-pitch change up. In the seventh inning you could tell he wanted the ball. His tempo was great. He had a little more velocity on the ball. He put the pressure on them, and that’s what good players do.

“I think Adam just beat them today, and deserves a lot of credit, as does our whole team.”

Deserving some of the credit for McCreery’s masterful performance was pitching coach Mitch Newell. Not once did McCreery shake off one of his pitches.

“The whole idea was to keep them off balance,” Newell said. “He was throwing his two-seam fastball well and his other pitches complemented that. To his credit, he got over that little hump in the middle innings where he got a little wild, and then he came out in the seventh pumping his fastball pretty well.

“For a junior, in a pressure situation, first-time playing CIF, going against someone else’s ace, he pitched a great game and he kept us in the game and gave us an opportunity to win it.”

McCreery’s repertoire included a fastball, change, slider and curve. “My slider was a little off at the beginning,” McCreery said, sporting an ice pack after throwing six innings and giving up just one run on three hits. “But I started finding it in the end, and it just got better as the game went on.z”

The only blemish on McCreery’s performance was a hanging 2-2 change-up he threw to Varela, who deposited it over the left field fence in the top of the sixth to shave the Bearcats lead to 2-1.

To the Bearcats’ credit, Bonita tacked on a huge insurance run when Highley and Anthony Ramos hit back-to-back two-out doubles in the bottom of the sixth to push the lead to 3-1.

“That shows a little bit about our character,” Knott said. “They came back. The pressure was kind of on us, 2-1, the guy hits a home run and it would have been easy for us to be on our heels.

“Highley with two outs strokes a ball down the line, gets a double out of that, and then Anthony Ramos, what can you say about that kid? He had a funeral yesterday, and he’s got a heart of a champion. With two strikes, he hits that breaking ball and just hammers it down the line. He’s done that all season for us.”

Then the Bearcats put the ball back in McCreery’s hands for the final three outs. “I wanted the ball,” McCreery said. “I felt good. I wasn’t getting tired.”

McCreery was probably more exhausted earlier in the week when he learned that Knott and Newell were handing him the ball for game one. “I was pretty nervous because I had never started a CIF game. It’s my first year on varsity.”

The unsung hero on the team was the team’s overall defense, especially on the right side where Mier at second and Highley at first gobbled up every liner and grounder hit to them. In right, K.C. Huth put on a defensive show, running down balls in the game and turning them into routine plays.

Bonita returns on Tuesday when it will it play either Downey or University.

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