Beyer High’s opponents spent most of Wednesday building leads. Beating the Patriots, however, was another thing.
The right time to lead, it says in the baseball how-to book, is at game’s end. The Patriots figured that out, and that’s why they’ve reached the championship game of the 45th Dick Windemuth Easter Tournament.
The Patriots (14-7) trailed Pitman 4-0 – they didn’t even get an out until the sixth batter – but clawed back to win 7-6. Later at windy Windemuth Field at Enochs, Beyer trailed three times against Central Catholic, only to answer each time before winning it 4-3 in the eighth on Jack Large’s run-scoring single to center.
Reliever Jentry Cox then retired Central Catholic in order and took care of the final out himself by snagging a line drive.
“No deficit scares these guys,” Beyer coach Dom Duran said. “They feel like they can come back against anyone.”
Beyer and Tracy (15-5), the latter which has allowed only two runs this week, swept to 3-0 records in their respective pools. The Patriots will trot out starter Micah Hall, who’s coming off a no-hitter against Modesto, in the title game today at 4:30 p.m. at Modesto.
The odds Beyer toppled to reach the featured game would have shamed Las Vegas. The Patriots’ chances seemed doomed when Pitman’s Zach Wichman launched a solo home run into the jet stream to right, deepening the Beyer hole to 4-0 in the third.
The comeback was ignited by singles by Caleb Saalfeld and Gavin Orique, followed by a walk to Connor Crawford and a Pitman error on Michael Maddox’s sacrifice bunt. Add three stolen bases and RBIs by Large and Jordan Walls, and Beyer drew even.
Later, the game’s result was affected by the tournament’s 2 hour, 15 minute per-game time limit. Beyer entered the bottom of the fifth with the game tied 6-6 and only 13 minutes left on the clock. Fast work was needed or tie-breakers would kick in.
Sure enough, the Patriots delivered when Walls walked, stole second and scampered home on Logan Smith’s bouncing double down the left field line. A few minutes later with Beyer still batting, the umpires stopped the game.
Smith, Beyer’s sturdy senior catcher, remembered the Patriots’ comeback win over Pitman earlier this season. He also recalled their painful loss to the Pride in last spring’s playoffs.
“If we faced them again in the playoffs, that would be better,” Smith said.
The afternoon game brought out more of that Beyer chemistry. Central Catholic (17-3) led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, its final lead on Ryan Vierra’s run-scoring hit. But Beyer answered each time.
In the seventh, the Patriots scrapped for the tying run on a leadoff double by Crawford, who advanced on a groundout and raced home on Large’s single to left.
Central Catholic may have missed its coach Mike Glines, absent due to a bout with vertigo. It was the first time he missed a baseball or football game due to illness in his long coaching career.
That said, the day belonged to Beyer. Duran liked his team’s chances entering the tournament, especially when its hitting picked up, and he even said he didn’t know how the Patriots could lose.
“I had no doubt. That’s why I was bold in my comments,” Duran said. “The guys told me after the game that they had my back.”
• Today’s schedule at Modesto: Gregori vs. Central Catholic at 9 a.m., Downey vs. Turlock at 11:30, Modesto vs. Ripon at 2 p.m. followed by the championship game.
• Today at Enochs: Escalon vs. Enochs at 10, Davis vs. Pitman at 12:45 and Modesto Christian vs. Johansen at 3:30.