It was that kind of night. Both San Dimas and Bonita were running out of balls, ballplayers, fans, innings, and then, without a cloud in the sky, there was a 10-minute rain delay in the bottom of the 11th inning with the Saints up to bat. Actually, it was a sprinkler delay, but the waters came and briefly poured a cold shower on the game.
None of this would have happened if the Saints Elias Alona hadn’t crushed a fastball over the left-centerfield fence for a dramatic two-out 2-run homer in the bottom of the seventh that tied the game and sent it into extra innings, making the tussle an instant classic in the long-time rivalry between the two schools.
Bonita finally pushed two runs across in the top of the 12th to take the lead 7-5 on sacrifice flies by Justin Row and Joe Quire. San Dimas finally went quietly in the bottom of the 12th. With the marathon finally over, there was no huge victory celebration by Bonita. Did Americans whoop it up after the Bataan Death March?
While the two exhausted teams filed back into their dugouts, Bonita coach John Knott tried to put the game into some kind of perspective.
“We didn’t quit, but you have to give San Dimas a ton of credit and respect. For them with two outs and nobody on, John Reid’s throwing, a college arm, and they go double, homer. I mean, we were crushed.
And I was wondering if our kids were going to quit. And I was proud of the fact that they didn’t. We didn’t get the big hit for a while. But we kept putting pressure on them. We found ways to walk. We got guys on base. We got the bunts down. I was just proud of the fact they just didn’t fold.
Although closer Reid gave up the tying homer in the bottom of the seventh, blowing the save for starter Parker Merritt, he was pretty much lights out for the next five innings, surrendering just one walk.
“I thought Reid did a great job going quietly about his business,” Knott said. “Three up, three down, three up, three down. He’s a kid, who if can crack him, it’s usually because of his command. He’ll walk a guy or two and try to do too much. He had one walk. I thought he stayed within himself. Even the first hitter in the last inning, he went three-and-two and he threw the strike right there, caught him looking.
“To me that’s the look of a championship team.”
Way back in the bottom of the first, it was San Dimas that had come out swinging. With one out, Daniel Milwee singled and moved to third on a double by Arona. Milwee scored on the ground out by Logan Muratalla to take an early 1-0 lead.
Bonita even the score, 1-1, in the top of the second. Jake Blunt walked and Justin Gomez before San Dimas’ Jimmy Lambert wild-pitched the pair to second and third. Chad Hocken grounded to second to drive in Blunt. That was the extent of the rally.
In the top of the third, Bonita scored three more runs to lead 4-1. With one out, Row walked, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out by Joe Willard. Lambert uncorked another wild pitch allowing Row to score. Then Bonita followed with singles by Joe Quire, Blunt and Justin Gomez. Hocken got on base on an error and Reid followed with another single.
San Dimas responded with a flurry of its own in the bottom half. With one out, Milwee executed a perfect hit-and-run, putting runners on the corners. Muratalla then cashed them both in with a seeing-eye single between third and shortstop to make the score Bonita 4, San Dimas 3.
The score stayed that way until the seventh, when Bonita scored an insurance run. Blut doubled with one out and Gomez plated him with an RBI single.
Then, with the crowd packing up and preparing to catch the 9 p.m. news, thunder struck with just one out remaining for San Dimas. Milwee doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Reid. Then Arona caught a fastball, blasting it into the night sky and into the record books as the longest game ever between the Saints and the Bearcats.
“It was one for the ages,” Knott said.