Bonita Catches Another Victory, Moves to Semifinals for First Time Since 2001

May 29, 2010
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Pitcher Adam McCreery worked out of a tough first-inning jam aided by a great catch by centerfielder Matt Gelalich.

Pitcher Adam McCreery worked out of a tough first-inning jam aided by a great catch by centerfielder Matt Gelalich.

In football, the 49ers’ Dwight Clark snatched a pass out of the air with his fingertips in the back of the end zone from Joe Montana in the waning seconds of the January 10, 1982 NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys, propelling the 49ers to a dramatic 28-27 victory and helping them go on to win four Super Bowls in the 1980s. The play simply became known as “The Catch.”

Yesterday, at Bonita High School, in the top of the first, Bearcats centerfielder Matt Gelalich dove for a sinking line drive off the bat of Jakari Bass with the bases loaded that had it not been caught could have scored one, two or three runs. The inning-ending “Catch” grounded the high-flying Eagles and set the tone for Bonita’s runaway 11-1 victory over Lancaster. With the win, the Bearcats play Tuesday on the road against San Gorgonio, the Bearcats’ first CIF semifinals appearance in baseball since 2001.

“If he misses that or traps that, they score one, possibly two, and who knows what can happen,” Bonita head coach John Knott said. “It was a big play. It set the tone for us.”

Gelalich’s catch seemed to energize the entire Bearcats’ team. In the bottom of the inning, playing before the largest crowd of the season, Robert Mier promptly stung the first pitch down the third base line off Eagles pitcher Ryan Barker for a double. After Gelalich bunted Mier over to second, Evan Highley drove in Mier with a solid single. Clean-up hitter Anthony Ramos, down 0-2 in the count, fouled off  a pair of tough fastballs before one caromed off his bat, catching him flush in the cheek and knocking him to the ground. After several minutes, Ramos was able to get up, but had to leave for medical attention.

Robert Mier blasted a lead-off home in the fourth to give Bonita a 7-0 lead.

Robert Mier blasted a lead-off home in the fourth to give Bonita a 7-0 lead.

In his place stepped Matt Rodriguez, Tuesday’s hero against Downey. Rodriguez slapped a curve ball for a single to put runners on the corners and bring up shortstop Brian Tuttle who lofted a sacrifice fly to centerfield to bring in Highley for Bonita’s second run. Next, K.C. Huth singled and catcher Mark Lindsay walked to load the bases bringing up Thomas Castro who also walked to force in Rodriguez. Third baseman Justin Garza finally tapped back to the pitcher to end the inning.

The first inning was a reversal of fortune for Lancaster. Looking to pounce on Bonita early, the Eagles started promisingly, but after the “Catch,” it was Bonita that carried home the prey.

On the hill, Bonita’s 6-foot-7-inch towering presence, Adam McCreery, struggled with his nerves and his control, but he gutted it out, made the pitches when he had to, and had Gelalich and the rest of his teammates backing him with superlative defense. In the second, the Eagles crushed three balls, but Gelalich ran them all down to further frustrate the hard-hitting Eagles.

“Adam got the nerves over with,” Knott said. “We start pregame and not too many people are here, and then you’re on the mound and it’s pretty packed. It’s kind of neat for these kids to see him go through this. They’re no big leaguers; they don’t play in front of this type of crowd every day. It’s to be expected. I thought he showed some composure and got through it and was much better after the first.”

In the bottom of the second, Gelalich blooped a one-out double. Highley flied out to right, moving Gelalich to third. Rodriguez was hit by a pitch and stole second to put runners at second and third. Then Brian Tuttle blasted relief pitcher’s Ryan Herrick’s offering over the left-field fence for a three run home run and a 6-0 Bonita lead.

In the third, Lancaster appeared as if it might finally get on the board but again it managed to find another way to keep from scoring. With one out, No. 2 hitter Curtis Summers scratched out an infield single and rolled into third on a one-out double by Cameron Summers. But Cameron got picked off at second, forcing his brother to break for home and get tagged out in a rundown. Neal White then flied out to end the inning.

Big No. 10, Josh Yepez came in and restored order for the Bearcats.

Big No. 10, Josh Yepez came in and restored order for the Bearcats.

In the top of the fourth, Bass, who hit into tough luck in the first, ran into it again in his second at bat. With one out, he banged a solid single to right and rounded the bag, prompting right fielder Huth to throw behind Bass to catcher Lindsay who was trailing Bass to first base. The surprise throw caught Bass in a rundown to clear the bases yet again.

Meanwhile, Mier hit a homer, his seventh of the season, to lead off the fourth and give Bonita a 7-0 lead.

In the top of the fifth, McCreery, who was still throwing a shutout, finally ran into some trouble that he needed help getting out of. He surrendered back-to-back singles to Jose Tejeda and Nick Lopez at the bottom of the lineup to bring up lead-off hitter Cash Oliver who doubled to drive in Tejeda and put runners at second and third with no outs.

In one of the biggest moves of the game, considering McCreery was about to face the teeth of the Eagles’ lineup, Bonita Coach John Knott left McCreery in the game to face Curtis Summers despite having a fresh Josh Yepez in the bullpen ready to go.

“I liked the matchup personally,” Knott said, explaining his strategy. “I also wanted him to see that we did have confidence in him to work his way out. Josh has thrown well all year, and it would have been easy for us to go to him, but we did have an open base and I liked his fastball running away against the guy.”

McCreery struck out Curtis on a curveball,  then Knott came and got the lanky lefthander before handing the ball to Yepez. After giving up an infield single to Cameron Summers, Yepez retired White on a fly to center and Herrick on a grounder to Mier at second.

The back-to-back Miramonte League champs may soon have to make some new T-shirts with a different message.

The back-to-back Miramonte League champs may soon have to make some new T-shirts with a different message.

“You got to give Josh a lot of credit,” Knott said. “He came in, they had some momentum, they had two on and one out, our infield was back and he came in and got a huge pop up and got the next guy to make an out. That was senior composure right there. He’s been that way all year.”

Added Yepez: “The situation was a little nerve-racking but I knew I had to get it done.” It was a tough assignment for a pitcher whose been a starter most of his Bonita career. “It’s pretty hard because you don’t know what situation you’re going to be in. You just have to be ready for anything.”

In the bottom half of the inning, Bonita was ready for more. The Bearcats scored two more runs on three singles and walk. In the bottom of the sixth, it was more of the same, two more runs coming in on singles by Tuttle and Huth and a double by Lindsay. Meanwhile, Yepez closed it out, limiting the Eagles to a pair of singles the rest of the way.

For the Bearcats, there were many stars. Both Tuttle was 3-for-3 with 4 RBIs and Lindsay was 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Also, Huth was 3-for-4 and Mier was 2-for-3 to pace the offense.

“Tuttle has been huge for us all tournament,” Knott said. “Last game, he pitched a complete game (2-1 over Elsinore) and got the win, and this game coming out, he just showed you what kind of player he is.

“Also give credit to Mark Lindsay, K.C. Huth and Mier,” Knott added. “I think what our team showed is that we are more than one or two guys deep. We have some depth on this team. We have some guys who are capable of having good games and that’s what we’ve come to expect. In playoffs, teams are usually not going to let your best players beat them. So it’s up to the other guys to contribute and have quality at-bats and put the pressure on the other team.”

On defense, it was another error-free game for the Bearcats, with Gelalich recording five outs, including the catch that stunned the high-flying Eagles who had scored 49 runs in their last four games.

“That’s what it takes to win these playoff games, just limit your mistakes – your walks and errors.” Knott added.

The medical status of Ramos, one of the key cogs in the Bearcats’ amazing season, was not immediately known.

“I love that kid,” Knott said. “To see where he was last year. He was like our 17th guy on the team to having some huge hits for us, to being an all-league player this year. He’s well respected and has a great attitude and work ethic.”

Ramos’ style of play seems to typify the entire Bonita team. McCreery certainly proved that.

“I was nervous the first couple of innings,” he said. “They were pretty loud. I lost my control a little bit there, but I like situations like that. I like to test myself and see if I can get out of it. I did it.”

He did indeed, as did the entire Bearcats team that now moves on to play San Gorgonio for a shot to play in the CIF Finals.

In the end, the game comes to a simple game of pitch and catch – and Bonita showed it knows how to catch the ball from the first inning to the last.

Baseball champs work out at Fitness Results. For more information, visit or call (909) 305-0188.


One Response to “Bonita Catches Another Victory, Moves to Semifinals for First Time Since 2001”

  1. Where is the softball story?

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