Having just returned from Disneyland for his senior trip, Ben Polack admitted he was feeling a little under the weather when he awoke Monday morning, hours before his Beyer High baseball team would play for a championship.
“I wasn’t going to give this game up,” he said. “We needed to win this one for our first Section baseball championship in our school’s history.”
Job. Well. Done.
The three-sport star stared down one of the best pitchers in the Sacramento area in Christian Brothers’ Jacob Tucker as the Patriots scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to beat the Falcons 3-2 and win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title.
“This was the rock-star performance we’ve known all throughout his career,” Beyer coach Dom Duran said of Polack. “He’s a three-sport guy and he brings his best no matter what.”
Polack pitched a complete game, scattering seven hits and got big help from a defense that turned double plays to end the third, fourth and fifth innings.
In the third and fifth innings, shortstop Armando Alvarez and second baseman Rey Rosa led the way. In the third, it was Polack starting a 1-3-2 double-play.
“They have been as stellar up the middle as I’ve ever seen,” Duran said of Alvarez and Rosa. “It’s that net that my pitchers have. They’ve been Hoovers all year long.”
Polack started the Patriots’ game-winning rally in the sixth with a leadoff single. He stole second and then, on his own, started a double-steal that left runners on second and third with one out.
Polack said he didn’t get the steal sign to take third.
“I have a trust in him,” Duran said. “We saw that Tucker was slow to the plate. We steal off the pitcher.”
The gamble paid off.
Polack scored on a wild pitch on ball four to T.J. Wheeler. Derek Gonzalez had a high-chop infield single that scored another run. And, with one out and a runner on first and third, up stepped Logan Pugh needing to put the ball in play.
“I knew I had to go up there and do a job and get the ball into the outfield,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘This was my time.’ I’ve played baseball all my life for this. This is a moment. This is what I wanted to end on.”
Pugh lifted a flyball to right field, deep enough to score Wheeler with the eventual game-winning run.
“These were two very good teams and it came down to a few little plays at thee end and they were able to make those plays,” said Christian Brothers coach Rich Henning, whose team finished 24-7. “(Beyer) is well-coached. When there is good pitching it comes down to little things and they did the little things at the end to win.”
In Beyer’s three previous trips to the section final, the Patriots lost to Del Campo (1985) and Jesuit (1996) and Davis Sr. (2000).
Duran, whose team finished 23-9, said even if his team fell short Monday, he’d have left Klein Family Field with a smile.
“This has been one of the more entertaining seasons I’ve been a part of,” he said. “This group of guys is special. Their ability to compete, to come back from behind ... these guys always have been able to scratch their way back.”