By Steve Breazeale
With their current No. 1 starter, senior Cody Maples, feeling the effects of a sore arm, junior pitcher Andrew Sim was called upon to take the mound for the San Clemente baseball team’s first Sea View League home game of the season against cross town rival Dana Hills on March 26.
Sim, who was called up from the junior varsity squad two weeks before the start of the season, turned in a six inning, two-hit, three strikeout effort and the Tritons went on to win 2-0.
After Sim was taken out of the game before the start of the seventh inning, the Dolphins (7-8, 0-4 league) lineup, which had been quiet until that point, suddenly woke up. Senior relief pitcher Marshall Pautsch inherited a no outs, runners at first and second scenario but managed to work his way out of the jam, emphatically striking out the last Dolphins batter to end the game.
The win pushed the Tritons (9-3, 2-1) record above .500 in league play for the first time this season.
“I never really expected to start the first home, league game,” Sim said. “It was real stressful at the end but we pulled through.”
The Tritons (9-3, 2-1) got a defensive boost in the top of the second inning from sophomore catcher Lucas Herbert, who turned what could have been a damaging situation into a bizarre, inning-ending double play.
With runners at second and third base the Dolphins tried to put on a risky squeeze play, but Herbert sniffed it out. Herbert chased down the Dolphins runner back to the third base bag, which was already occupied by the Dana Hills runner coming in from second. Herbert applied one tag then made a throw to teammate Kent Burckle, who finished the play and the inning with yet another tag.
It was a confusing series of events that turned out to be a crucial point in the game, considering the score was 0-0 at the time.
“I haven’t seen that (scenario) before and probably never will again,” San Clemente head coach Dave Gellatly said. “It was a heads up play on (Herbert’s) part. It probably saved us the game.”
In the next frame the Tritons took the lead on a Brock Eissman sacrifice fly that scored fellow senior Shane Elias-Calles.
The Tritons would tack on one more run in the bottom of the fourth inning on an Elias-Calles RBI single that brought Herbert in from third base.
San Clemente will now host Aliso Niguel, who is slated to start standout sophomore pitcher Kyle Molnar, on March 28 at 3:30 p.m.