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West Ranch's CIF playoffs end in wild-card round

Wildcats lose to Chaminade and pitcher Suppan

Posted: May 21, 2014 10:21 p.m.
Updated: May 21, 2014 10:21 p.m.

West Ranch's Jake Spurlin lays down a bunt during a CIF-Southern Section Division I wild-card playoff game between West Ranch and Chaminade at West Ranch High School on Wednesday.

There were the standard handshakes and hugs among players and coaches that normally follow a season-ending loss.

But with this West Ranch Wildcats baseball team, there was also a feeling a shock at the idea of it all coming to a close so soon.

West Ranch lost 5-0 to Chaminade of West Hills on Wednesday in the wild-card round of the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs at West Ranch High School.

“We had a really good start (to the season). It ended sooner than we expected,” said West Ranch senior Jake Bird.

“I really thought we could go all the way. I know it sounds stupid saying that now.”

Bird took the mound for the Wildcats (16-11), who were up against Chaminade ace Dylan Suppan.

It looked for a while like the game was going to be a grind-it-out pitchers’ duel until the Eagles (15-13) broke it open with a four-run fifth inning.

The Wildcats didn’t put together much of a threat after that as they managed just two hits against Suppan in his 6 2/3 innings of work. Suppan struck out five before he left the game in the seventh inning with tightness in his back.

“The most pressure I had was watching Bird pitch and just going to battle with him,” Suppan said. “Once we got that first run it was OK.”

Chaminade took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Tommy Costello’s sacrifice fly brought home Darren Kriz.

With as well as Suppan was throwing, that was all the Mission League fourth-place Eagles needed.

“I thought he was pretty consistent working away from us and when he needed to reach back and get a guy out with a curveball, he did,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill.

Bird didn’t really run into trouble until the fifth though, when the Eagles sent eight batters to the plate and strung together five straight hits.

The scoring was capped by Blake Rutherford’s massive two-run home run to right field. Rutherford, like Bird, is a UCLA commit.

“I wasn’t getting strikes, I was getting behind hitters,” said Bird, who has been West Ranch’s ace all season with a 1.08 ERA coming into the day. “They did a good job of hitting ahead in the count.”

Bird pitched all seven innings while giving up nine hits, three walks and striking out four.

West Ranch hitters couldn’t find the gaps against a stellar Chaminade defensive performance. A total of three Wildcat hitters lined out, including Jagger Rusconi’s rope to first base that resulted in an inning-ending double play in the sixth.

“We hit some balls at some people and we didn’t catch any breaks,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill.

All of West Ranch’s hits came from Addison Jackson, who was 2-for-2 on the day.

Jackson is one of eight West Ranch senior starters whose high school careers concluded on Wednesday.


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