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Nico Martinez Delivers Walk-Off Single to Lift Dos Pueblos Over Newbury Park in CIF Opener

Chargers' first three hitters go 7-for-10 with two doubles and five runs

DP baseball Click to view larger
Dos Pueblos junior Nico Martinez comes up with a game-winning walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning against Newbury Park on Friday. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Nico Martinez beat out a chopper up the middle for a walk-off RBI single on Thursday that lifted Dos Pueblos past Newbury Park 6-5 in a dramatic CIF Division 1 baseball playoff opener at Scott O’Leary Field.

The Channel League champion Chargers won their seventh in a row to improve to 24-3 overall and 10-2 at home The Panthers, co-champions of the Marmonte League, finish at 16-13.

“That was probably the fastest I’ve run to first base, and I was doing it for our seniors,” said Martinez, a junior who started in right field. “For most of them, this could be the last baseball they get to play. You never know when that last pitch is going to come.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play. Going back to Little League, they always told us, ‘When you put the ball in play, good things happen,’ and that’s what happened. I think I beat the throw by a good half-step.”

With the score tied 5-5 in the sixth, Martinez came on in relief of starter Isaac Coffey from his right-field position. The Panthers had runners on first and second with two outs, and Martinez got Robert Sharrar to ground out to second on a 3-2 pitch.

“I was pumped up to come in and pitch after Isaac Coffey gave us another great start,” Martinez said. “I was just going to feed off Coffey. Try to shut them down and let our offense do what it does.”

Leadoff hitter Evan Kling went 3-4 with a double and two singles. Chris Abbott and Charlie Cuykendall both went 2-4. The top three batters in the order (Kling, Abbott and Coffey) went 7-10 with two doubles and five runs.

“We knew they had strong pitchers who were going to try and show velocity,” said Kling, a senior catcher who doubled down the right-field line to ignite a three-run third inning. “My plan was to go hit fastballs early in the count.”

Martinez pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out Austin Cundiff to end the inning. Dylan Kelley opened the bottom of the seventh with a single to right. Jed Donelan tried to bunt him to second, but the pitcher got Kelley on a forceout at second. Drew Darke doubled into the left-field corner, and Dos Pueblos had runners at second and third with one out.

DP baseball
Isaac Coffey of Dos Pueblos reached base four times at the plate, including a two-run double, in Friday’s playoff opener. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Cuykendall looked at strike three for the second out, bringing the No. 9 hitter Martinez to the plate. On a 1-2 pitch from reliever Jake Miller, Martinez hit a chopper over the pitcher’s head and second baseman Carson Lambert’s throw to first was just late, touching off a wild celebration by the Chargers.

“That was a great baseball game and what an experience for our guys,” Dos Pueblos coach George Hedricks said. “That’s a good team we beat and they got five runs off Isaac. That’s got to be a little nervy for Nico to come into that situation.

“The fact that Nico’s been on varsity since his freshman year, he’s been thrown in those types of spots before and he has playoff experience really helped him. He was emotionless and didn’t get caught up in the moment.

"And then the way he fought through to find success in his last at-bat after some tough plate appearances … that says a lot about where he is as a junior and makes me happy to have him back for next year.”

DP erased a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the third, the last two scoring on a triple by cleanup hitter Mason Boelter. Newbury Park went back ahead 3-2 on an RBI triple by Lambert in the fourth. Lambert, a 6-4 right-hander, has signed to play for USC. The 6-4 right-hander started for the Panthers and went 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts.

Coffey started for the Chargers and went 5.2 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits and striking out four. Coffey, who’s going to Oral Roberts in the fall, went 2-2 and reached base four times on a single, a walk, a two-run double that gave DP a 5-3 lead in the fourth, and a hit-by-pitch.

“We saw their three best pitchers, and all three will do very well in college,” Hedricks said. “If you look at the last three years of this program, we’ve done well against guys like that. Our guys really rise to the challenge and aren’t afraid of it. I think some of these teams with hard throwers from L.A. aren’t used to seeing teams that don’t back down.”

The Chargers have the fourth-best offense in CIF Division 1 with 207 runs and a 7.7 average. They outhit the Panthers 11-8 on Friday.

The Panthers tied it 5-5 with two runs in the sixth. Lambert reached on an infield hit and Matt Entrup singled to left. The runners went to second and third on a groundout, and both scored on a line single to center by pinch-hitter Connor Whitcomb.

Dos Pueblos won a coin flip for home field, and they’ll host No. 2 seed Huntington Beach (27-5) in a second-round game at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday. The Oilers beat Vista Murrieta 9-1 on Friday.

— Dave Loveton is a local freelance writer.

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