Los Altos High baseball coach Gabe Stewart described Westmont as “a beast in the playoffs” – one that the Eagles couldn’t tame in the Central Coast Section Division I final.
The top-seeded Warriors walloped Los Altos 8-1 in the May 27 title game at San Jose Municipal Stadium.
“I thought we could compete with them,” said Stewart, encouraged by his team’s 10-9 loss to the Warriors in 11 innings March 18, “but they went on a run.”
The seventh-seeded Eagles (20-12-1 overall) were the only team to score a run off Westmont in the postseason; the Warriors won their three other CCS games by a combined 15-0.
But Los Altos didn’t get that run until the sixth inning, with Westmont already up 8-0. Warriors pitcher Austin Tremelling, who went the distance, allowed just five hits and no earned runs.
Stewart said his Eagles “hit line drives all day.” And other than doubles by Keenan Hanley and Ryan Buchner, those line drives “found Warrior gloves all day,” the coach added.
Westmont (22-9) produced only eight hits but took advantage of several Los Altos mistakes.
“We picked a bad time to not play our best game,” Stewart said.
Eagles pitcher Max Higareda struck out the first batter he faced, but the senior ran into trouble after that. Higareda hit a batter, walked another and gave up a single that helped the Warriors jump to a 3-0 lead in the first.
An Eagles’ error in the second led to two more runs for Westmont. Then came what Stewart described as “the final blow” – a fourth inning in which Westmont scored three runs, aided by a walk, a hit batsman and a misplayed double-play ball.
“We dug our own grave when they got those three runs,” he said.
When it was all over, the coach noted that the mood in the Los Altos dugout ranged from somber to frustrated.
“They were disappointed,” Stewart said. “There was some sadness, shock and anger – guys knew we could have played better.”
After a few minutes of contemplation, the coach asked his players to pose with the second-place plaque – and their reaction was just what he hoped for.
“I’m glad they agreed, because second in the section is nothing to be disappointed about,” Stewart said. “I think that put it in perspective.”
The coach is proud of what the Eagles accomplished in the postseason after placing fifth in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division.
“These guys didn’t back down from anybody or didn’t quit,” said Stewart, whose team won three playoff games, including an upset of No. 2 Mountain View in the quarterfinals. “We were playing good baseball by May, and I knew we had a chance.”
Especially when ace Alex Reelfs was on the mound. The junior went 3-0 in CCS (he was not allowed to start the final due to pitch-count rules) with a 0.49 ERA and 11 strikeouts. Reelfs walked only two batters and hit one in his three starts. He also hit .363 in the playoffs, with two doubles and three RBIs.