A clutch two-out, two-run double by Joaquin Sandoval in the bottom of the sixth inning gave the San Marcos High baseball team just enough insurance to close the doors on crosstown rival Dos Pueblos, defeating the Chargers 5-4 at Joe Mueller Field Friday evening to take the three-game series.
“We were in the lead and I know some of us weren’t worried, but I knew that we needed that extra insurance — just in case worse comes to worse, you always want to have that. I was just looking for a fastball to hit. I got it and I put my best swing on it. That’s all I can do,” Sandoval told Noozhawk after the win.
With the win, the Royals improve to 12-6 overall and 8-1 in Channel League play — it’s only loss coming to DP just a few days prior. Meanwhile, the Chargers fall to 9-10 overall with a 4-3 record in league play.
The Chargers had their fair share of opportunities to steal the game, and the series, from their rivals throughout the contest despite being down nearly the entire seven innings.
The Chargers trailed 3-0 heading into the top of the fourth inning, thanks in part to a great performance from San Marcos ace Chase Hoover, who hadn’t allowed a hit up to that point.
In that fourth inning, however, DP opened up with a single and then worked back-to-back walks after a bunt to load the bases with just one out.
Both ensuing batters would pop up, however, letting the Royals escape without giving up a run.
The same situation happened in the top of the fifth inning as well, as the Chargers worked a single, then a walk and advanced both runners on a wild pitch to have two players in scoring position with one out.
After a strikeout, the next DP batter worked a walk to load up the bases with two outs. Senior Kellan Montgomery came up to the plate — the hero in Tuesday’s win over San Marcos — but could not deliver a similar strike in the top of the fifth, flying out to end the inning.
“When you got bases loaded, you had to find a way to get some runs. You need to get one at least one out of it,” DP coach George Hedricks said after the game.
“To be able to do that back-to-back innings was great, he’s a very tough pitcher, but you have to capitalize when a pitcher gives you an opportunity to get him, especially a guy as good as Hoover. You have to find a way to get a run in… but I am proud of how we fought for seven innings.”
Hoover was retired in the top of the sixth inning after giving up back-to-back hits, finishing with a stat line of four hits allowed, four walks, with two earned runs while striking out seven.
“He’s never in trouble, he’s just figuring things out. He’s always in control,” San Marcos coach Wesley Ghan-Gibson said after the game.
“He might get too cute sometimes but that’s part of his growth and maturity. You can’t always throw perfect games, you can’t always throw no hitters, but what I do know is he’s gonna always compete. He’s gonna always love his teammates and love the game, and I’m so proud of them. I’m so proud and I just see the work that he puts in every day, and it shows.”
Dos Pueblos would finally get on the board in the top of the sixth, still trailing 3-0, as the Chargers worked three consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs and retire Hoover for the day.
The Chargers hit a sacrifice fly, followed by a fielder’s choice RBI to take two runs in the frame – both runs charged to Hoover as well.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Royals opened up the frame with a double. After a ground out and a strikeout, San Marcos’ Steven Bradley worked a walk to have runners on first and second.
Then, Sandoval came through with his clutch hit, hitting a ball into the deep right gap to clear the bases on his double.
Those insurance runs came in handy as DP got a triple from senior Dylan Bailey, which scored one run, and he would come around to score as well to cut the lead back to one.
San Marcos would strike out the final batter to secure the win.
“This team really gutted this one out,” Ghan-Gibson said.
“DP is well coached, they’re tough and I tip my cap to those guys, and it’s a shame we had to finish our series so early. We would’ve liked to finish with more on the line, but a win is a win in Channel League.
“Every game seems to be like this, and it’s just big-time players making big-time plays in big-time games, and we just had a few more. That was the difference.”