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Dos Pueblos Pulls Off Stunning Comeback, Upsets No. 2 Huntington Beach

Evan Kling belts game-tying grand slam in 7th; Charlie Cuykendall hits walk-off single in 8th for 6-5 victory

Evan Kling, Dos Pueblos baseball Click to view larger
Down 5-1, Evan Kling of Dos Pueblos belted a grand slam with one out in the bottom of the seventh to even the score against Huntington Beach (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The Cardiac Kids were at it again on Tuesday at Scott O’Leary Field.

Dos Pueblos trailed No. 2 Huntington Beach 5-0 and was down to its last two outs before rallying for its second straight 6-5 walk-off win in the second round of the CIF Division 1 baseball playoffs.

The Chargers won their eighth in a row and boosted their record to 25-3. The Oilers, who were ranked No. 7 in the nation, finish with a 26-6 record.

Oilers’ left-hander Josh Hahn, a junior who’s signed with UCLA, was masterful in the first 6.1 innings, holding the home team to no runs on three hits with eight strikeouts. With one out in the seventh, he walked Jed Donelan on four pitches and Drew Darke doubled to left-center. Right-fielder Dylan Ramirez came in to pitch and he gave up an RBI single to Charlie Cuykendall, a walk and a grand slam by left-hander Evan Kling that tied the game at 5-5.

“We hadn’t gotten many hits and we needed to piece some together and pass the stick and figure out a way to get some runs,” said Cuykendall, a senior who batted eighth as the designated hitter. “I’ve never lost my voice so quick as I did when Evan hit that grand slam. It gave everyone the life and energy we needed.”

Nico Martinez turned in three solid innings of relief, allowing just one unearned run in the seventh and striking out the side in the sixth. Isaac Coffey came on to pitch the eighth and promptly struck out the side, getting all three batters to look at strike three.

Donelan led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple off Huntington Beach’s third left-handed pitcher, Nate Madole. He sent a towering shot to left field and Jag Burden had to sprint back, then cut back to the left and the ball glanced off his glove near the warning track. Pinch-hitter Evan Steinberger struck out for the first out.

With the infield and outfield playing in, Cuykendall lofted a 1-1 pitch into the gap between center and right and the ball fell for a single, bringing in Donelan with the winning run.

“All I had in my head was to make contact and put it in play,” said Cuykendall. “When you put it in play, good things happen. We’ve never given up, ever, when we’re down late in a game. We’ve come back before and we knew we could do it again.”

Huntington Beach wasted little time in getting a run off DP starter Dylan Kelley. Jake Vogel hit the first pitch over the head of center fielder Donelan for a triple. Two pitches later, Hahn hit a sacrifice fly to deep center. The Oilers went up 2-0 in the second on Dylan Ramirez’ RBI fielder’s choice, then added two more in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Ramirez and an error by Mason Boelter, who dropped a throw at first, allowing Cole Minato to score an unearned run.

Vogel reached base on another infield error to lead off the seventh. He stole second, went to third on a groundout and scored on Burden’s groundout to first for a 5-0 lead.

Kling, the leadoff hitter, was coming off a 3-4 game and hit the ball hard on Tuesday, flying out to deep center in the first and drilling a long lineout to right in the sixth.

“Coach told us, ‘We’re not done yet,’ before we batted in the seventh,” said Kling, a senior catcher who’s batting .356 with three homers and 19 RBI. “We have a lot of fight and we don’t like to lose. We just had to battle out.

“The guys did a good job of getting on base in front of me. I was doing a little mental math and I realized if I hit one out right here, that ties it up and we’d have a good chance to win. I was just looking to drive the ball. I had been hitting the ball really hard all day and the baseball gods let me sneak one out. I took a big swing the pitch before and he threw me the exact same pitch (another fastball) right down the middle.

“When I hit it, I knew it was out but I was too in the moment to even look at it. I was hyped up and trying to run as hard as I could. That’s a good team we beat and they’re known for being a powerhouse. We wanted to show everyone that we can be a powerhouse too.”

Kelley, Martinez and Coffey limited the Oilers to eight hits and three earned runs. The Chargers got just three hits in the first six innings and five in their last two at-bats.

“I told the guys we wanted to walk it off again because it felt so good last time,” said DP coach George Hedricks. “We were trying to keep our guys in the game and keep their confidence up. These guys believe in each other. We huddled up in the seventh inning and said, ‘Hey why don’t we walk it off again?’ We waited another inning to do it but it still happened.

“We did a good job of putting ourselves in the opportunity to be in that position. And the rest is just baseball, that’s why we love the game.”

Hedricks was happy to see Kling stride to the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh.

“He’s been pretty locked in lately,” said Hedricks. “Look what he did in our first playoff game and then he hit two balls really hard against a tough lefty. That’s the guy you want up there with runners on base.

“I think Charlie is still batting over .400 and we’re thrilled to have him (Cuykendall transferred to DP from Santa Barbara High),” Hedricks stated. “Kind of like Nico the other day, we keep finding different guys to be the hero.”

Dos Pueblos moves into the quarterfinals and the Chargers will travel to Capistrano Valley in Mission Viejo on Friday at 3:15 p.m. The Cougars (22-10) edged South Hills 3-2 on a seventh-inning walk-off single by Josh Soloman. 


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