The Eagles advanced beyond the first round of the Central Coast Section Division I baseball playoffs by ending the season of a team that ended theirs a year ago.
Tenth-seeded Los Altos defeated No. 7 Willow Glen 5-4 Thursday – one year after the Rams ended the Eagles’ season with a 10-0 first-round rout in the Division II tournament.
Visiting Los Altos (15-15 overall) rallied from a 4-2 deficit by scoring three runs in the six. That proved to be the decisive blow against the Rams (16-12) and their starting pitcher Wes Malik.
The Eagles were slated to face No. 2 Westmont (21-9) in Saturday’s quarterfinals, played after the Town Crier’s press deadline.
Sophomore left-hander Trevor Rogers, who threw two scoreless innings to preserve Thursday’s win for Los Altos, said his team entered the rematch against Willow Glen with confidence.
“Last year we came out here and got smacked around by 10 (runs),” Rogers said. “This year we came in (to the playoffs) and just said that we don’t care what happened last year. We’re going to grind and we’re going to win this game – and that’s what we did.”
Second-year head coach Donnie Ecker, who picked up his first CCS win, said his squad is approaching the playoffs with a game-by-game mentality.
“To us, we don’t talk about it like it’s a CCS game – it’s just the next game on the schedule,” Ecker said. “I’m proud of the guys and I look forward to being able to practice tomorrow.”
The Eagles found themselves with a short-lived 2-1 lead on Chase Eller’s run-scoring single in the first and bases-loaded walk in the second. The Rams put together a three-run fourth off reliever Matt Bicker to pull ahead. In relief of starter James Oleson, Bicker started the inning by allowing three straight singles before uncorking a wild pitch that scored Andrew Bell for a 2-all tie. Leadoff hitter Matt Toscano followed next with a two-run single, scoring Jack Hutchings and Turner Meeker to take a 4-2 lead.
The Eagles answered back in the top of the sixth, chipping away at Willow Glen’s lead when second baseman Adam Spielman laced a triple into the left-field corner to score Thomas Kelleher. Patrick McColl later tied the game at 4 by knocking in Spielman with a one-out double to left-centerfield.
Los Altos grabbed what proved to be a decisive 5-4 lead when McColl stole third and scored on Duke Meyers’ sacrifice fly into left field. The three-run outburst ended the outing for Malik, who allowed just two runs on four hits while striking out four prior to the sixth.
“I think some long at-bats earlier in the game got his pitch count up and that helped a lot,” Rogers said of touching up Malik, a first-team Blossom Valley Athletic League Mountain Hamilton Division selection, in the sixth.
Rogers then put the finishing touches on the Eagles’ win – but not before working his way out of a tense bottom of the seventh. The left-hander walked two consecutive Willow Glen batters with two outs before inducing pinch hitter Tommy Soltis to groundout, ending the game.