The Eagles CIF Play-off Run Ends
BY Lynn Guerin
In the game of baseball sometimes it’s hard to believe what you see. As you gazed out on the field at John Muir High School, the site for a second round CIF Division 5 playoff game between The Muir Mustangs and The Rancho Christian Eagles, it was hard to believe you were seeing the very field “The” Jackie Robison starred on over 82 years ago.
At the end of that same playoff game, looking out on the same field, it was hard to believe that Rancho Christian has just thrown a no- hitter, but had lost in heart breaking fashion 6-0. How does something like that happen? Here’s how.
The game unfolded as a terrific pitching duel between Rancho Christians hard throwing senior Colton Bulger and Muir’s junior ace Brian Love. The game was scoreless through the top of the fourth inning despite Rancho threatening to score in the first , second and fourth innings.
Joey Hauck lead off the game with a single but didn’t get past first. Colton Bulger lead off the second with a double in the gap in right center, but a ground out and 2 Love strikeouts left Bulger at second.
In the bottom of the fourth Muir worked a little Jackie Robison like magic and hustle that produced their first run, still without a hit. Ary Harrison, with excellent speed hit a grounder to first, the ball was not fielded cleanly and Harrison was on. Bulger walked the next batter. With 2 runners on and no outs , Bulger battled back and struck out Em Martinez for the first out.
Here is where things began to get a little crazy. On what appeared to be a double steal attempt, Bulger got Harrison caught in a rundown. After a few tosses back and forth Harrison somehow got to third avoiding a tag but appearing to be out of the base paths, but he was called safe. The next batter grounded out to first but Harrison scored making the score 1-0 after 4 innings.
Both teams went out in order in the fifth inning. In the top of the sixth for Rancho, Trevor Jones lead off the inning doubling offs the wall in left. Carter Treadway walked and Rancho looked like they were in business.
Brian Love had other ideas. He got Colton Bulger on a hard line out to center. Saatzer popped out to second for out number two. Danny Meraz hit a soft fly ball to right and the threat was over.
In the bottom of the sixth, with a 1-0 lead, Muir was still without a hit. That wouldn’t change after 6 innings but what did change was the score. In the bottom of the sixth, The Mustangs scored five runs on five errors, 2 walks ,a hit batter and a fielder’s choice. The very good defense that Rancho displayed all season in racking up 21 wins, against only four losses, suddenly and completely collapsed.
Give the Mustangs credit, they took total advantage of every Rancho miscue and their speed and hustle payed off big. Rancho tried to rally in the seventh getting two men on But Love went the distance getting all three outs in the seventh by strikeouts.
The Muir Mustangs move on to the quarter finals taking on El Rancho who defeated Estancia 4-1.
For Rancho it was a big disappointment but a very good program keeps getting better. Back to back twenty win seasons and 10 returning players for the 2019 Season bodes well for the future of Rancho Christian Baseball.