Murrieta Mesa overcame adversity and an error Tuesday to beat West Ranch and advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 Championship Game. Leading 2-1 in the final inning of regulation play, Murrieta Mesa had the game won as a tall but catchable pop fly drifted into short centerfield.
Second baseman Kiel Palm waved off centerfielder Austen Salcedo but the ball dropped safely behind him as the Wildcats tied it all up and sent the game into extra innings. The Rams were down but not out and kept their heads in the game and perservered.
“It’s about their preparation,” said Mesa coach Bryn Wade. “We talk about overcoming adversity in so many different ways. We prepare them in practice and were ready for this kind of situation. They accept the adversity.”
The Rams used four pitchers against the Wildcats. Wade started Tony Carreon, and then went to Nate Stiliniovich and Kevin Palm. Zac Filos came in to pitch in the eighth.
Murrieta Mesa began the ninth with a double by Andy Thomas. Caiden Matkins’ bunt single moved Thomas to third. The Wildcats then walked Filos intentionally to load the bases. Kiel Palm then made up for his error in the seventh with a clutch double that scored two runners. The Rams loaded the bases again when Justin Randle was hit by a pitch. Kevin Palm hit a deep sacrifice fly to drive in his younger brother Kiel. Brad Prebay then walked to force in the Rams final run.
West Ranch rallied in the bottom of the inning but came up short. The Wildcats scored a run and had the bases loaded with just one out against Filos, but the senior got the job done. He had the last 2 batters to pop up in the infield and Palm caught the final out of the game.
The Rams continue to make School History. They are the only baseball team from Murrieta Mesa to compete in a CIF Divisional Playoff Game. He Rams will travel to San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino to face Harvard-Westlake from Studio City Saturday.