If the Pitman High baseball team continues to get strong pitching performances the Pride have a chance to make a deep playoff run.
Brett Hagen took the mound for Pitman on Thursday and was in control from the start. The junior right-hander gave up just four hits and three walks as the fifth-seeded Pride defeated No. 4 Bear Creek 5-1 at the University of the Pacific’s Klein Family Field in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South playoffs.
“I know I can trust my guys,” said Hagen, who struck out seven. “I believe in my stuff. I’m not trying to do too much, stay within myself. If I can hit my spots I can get ground balls.”
The Pride (19-9) have opened the playoffs with two complete games. It was Jack Wheeland going the distance in a 5-1 win over Franklin (Stockton) in the first round.
Hagen picked up where Wheeland left off.
Even when the Bruins threatened, Hagen kept his poise and made the tough pitches he needed to get out of jams.
It was far different than Hagen’s playoff start against McNair last year where defensive miscues behind him got to him. He ended up with a no-decision in the Pride’s 4-3 loss.
“He was looking for redemption from last year,” said Pitman coach John Acha, whose team will play the winner of Tracy-El Capitan on Monday at 7 p.m. “He was a completely different player out there today. He got the no-decision against McNair. Today he looked like an area dominant pitcher.”
When the Bruins challenged, Hagen answered.
Hagen struck out BC’s Robert Blachly to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning.
The Bruins had two runners on with one out in the fourth, but Hagen got a big strikeout and a comebacker to the mound to get out of that frame unscathed.
The one sixth inning run was the only blemish on his stat sheet.
“It’s something I’ve done a lot better at is keeping my composure,” Hagen said. “Last year there were a few errors in the playoff game and I didn’t keep my head straight the way I wanted.”
Meanwhile, the Pride offense gave him a 2-0 lead early in the game.
After stranding two runners in the first inning against Bear Creek left-hander Trevor Martin, the Pitman bats went back to work in the second. It was an error that opened the door for the Pride as Bear Creek’s Peyton Rios dropped a fly ball in right field that allowed Tyler Stout to reach second base with two outs.
Antonio Reyes followed with an RBI double to left field to give Pitman a 1-0 lead. Mac Cabero then singled in Reyes to extend the lead to 2-0.
“The early runs helped a bunch,” Hagen said. “For us, if we don’t score early it usually doesn’t go well for us. If we don’t score we start doubting ourselves so scoring first is a big thing for us.”
After Bear Creek cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth, the Pride produced three big insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning.
Tyler Stout greeted Bruins reliever Raul Mejia with a triple to right-center field to lead off the inning. Reyes was then hit and stole second to set the stage for Cabero’s two-runs single that stretched the Pitman lead to 4-1.
Nick Jones added another RBI single to extend the lead to 5-1.
The Pride pounded out 10 hits with Cabero, Daniel Fageria, Nick Jones and Cole Carrigg all recorded two hits.