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West Ranch baseball falls to Los Alamitos in opening round

Posted: May 16, 2013 10:23 p.m.
Updated: May 16, 2013 10:23 p.m.

West Ranch pitcher Cody Bennett reacts after allowing the go-ahead run to score in the sixth inning against Los Alamitos on Thursday at West Ranch High School.

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The West Ranch Wildcats had to battle to the very last game of the regular season to win their second straight Foothill League baseball title.

In the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs, West Ranch ran into a team that was willing to battle back.

What was left at the end was a group of stunned Wildcats players after they lost 6-5 to the Los Alamitos Griffins on Thursday at West Ranch High School.

“Tonight will be tough,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “I think when you have a 32-team bracket, only one team goes home happy.”

West Ranch (17-9) led on two separate occasions in Thursday’s game, but it failed to hold on to either one.

The latest lead was a 5-3 edge thanks to a two-run home run hit by senior Tyler Woldanski in the fifth inning.

With Wildcats ace Cody Bennett on the mound in the sixth with a two-run lead, it all seemed to be set up for a playoff victory.

“Once we hit the two-run home run, I thought there was no doubt we were going to win that game,” Bennett said.

But the pesky Griffins (17-10) strung together just enough of a rally to score three runs and take the lead for good at 6-5.

“Our kids beared down on a heck of a pitcher, got runners on and came up with big hits,” said Los Alamitos head coach Matt Nuez.

Los Alamitos started the inning with an infield single, a walk and a groundout to get the runner at second base.

That left runners on first and third with Gianni Castillo up to bat.

Bennett thought he threw strike three to Castillo on a 1-2 curveball, but it was called a ball. Later, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Castillo roped a triple into center field to score both runners and tie the score 5-5.

One pitch later, Brenden Heffren brought in the eventual winning run with a sacrifice flyout to right field.

“We had some chances to put away hitters with some pitches,” Burrill said. “Some of those calls were close.”

Griffins starting pitcher Jake Nix got the job done in the sixth and seventh to hold off West Ranch and finish his complete-game performance.

Nix gave up the five runs, three earned, off five hits and two walks. Nix struck out six in the game.

The Wildcats got to him initially in the fourth inning when an errant throw by Griffins third baseman Darren McCaughan allowed a run to score on a ground ball hit by Kyle McGraw.

Two batters later, West Ranch’s Jake Spurlin knocked in two runs with a single to left field to put West Ranch in front 3-2.

That lead was quickly surrendered when Los Alamitos scored a run in the fifth to tie it up.

The Griffins started the game’s scoring with a two-run, three-hit rally in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead.

West Ranch shared a Foothill title with Canyon this year after starting the season off with two league losses.

This loss ends the Wildcats’ season much earlier than last year after they reached the Division I semifinal.

“We weren’t supposed to win this year,” Woldanski said. “We might not be the most talented team, but we showed we could get it done.”

 

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