(Lead photo by Steven Silva)
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Playing their sixth playoff game in ten days, La Costa Canyon entered Friday's Open Division Championship game against top-seeded Granite Hills limited on pitching options.
After starting pitcher Roni Chutke allowed three runs to Granite Hills in the first inning, it appeared as if the Mavericks were in for a long night.
They began chipping away and tied the game at three with a solo home run from Gabe Camacho in the top of the seventh inning. An inning later, La Costa Canyon broke the game wide open with seven runs on their way to a 10-3 win over Granite Hills.
RONI CHUTKE SETTLES IN
Chutke found a rhythm during his second inning on the mound and regained his form from much of the season.
“I feel like it was definitely mental on my part," Chutke said of his first inning struggles. "I tried to go and clear my head and went into the next inning with a blank slate.”
Chutke did exactly that, shutting out the Eagles over his final 6 1/3 innings while allowing only three hits over that time.
“So proud of Roni," La Costa Canyon head coach Justin Machado said. "He’s probably had 20 appearances for us, he’s been our workhorse all year. Tonight, he came out and got a little beat up in the first but showed his resiliency and did everything he possibly could.”
Chutke walked the second batter in the bottom of the eighth inning right as he crossed the 100-pitch mark and made way for Gabe Camacho to come in and record the final two outs of the game.
CAMACHO SAVES THE DAY
Despite Chutke's performance on the mound from the second inning on, the Mavericks still found themselves in a 3-2 hole as they entered the final inning.
Kaden Bass led off the seventh inning with a strikeout before Gabe Camacho stepped in and unloaded on the first pitch he saw, a fastball that cleared the right field fence and fell just short of the scoreboard, tying the game at three.
“First pitch he jumped on it," Machado said. "He’s done that a lot for us this year, that was a big time swing in a big time moment.”
Camacho's home run, his ninth of the season, is a new single season record for the Mavericks.
THE OFFENSE COMES ALIVE
Roni Chutke worked a scoreless seventh inning, pitching around Granite Hills star Grant MacArthur, to send the game to extra innings.
The Mavericks led off the extra frame with a double, a walk, and an error to load the bases. An additional error, a single and a passed ball resulted in three runs for La Costa Canyon. Jacob Paul capped off the inning with a three-run single that gave the Mavericks a comfortable 10-3 lead that would wind up being the final score.
“They’ve been a tight knit group the entire year and it’s a team I love to coach, and we’ve still got more to go in state," Machado said.