The San Marcos High School baseball team was one out away from moving forward in the CIF Division 4 playoffs, but visiting Loyola exploded for five runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning and held on for a stunning 5-4 victory on Thursday afternoon.
San Marcos led 3-0 going into the final frame, but the Cubs strung together several clutch at-bats, setting the stage for Jackson Shea’s two-run single that evened the score at 3-3 followed by Walter Urbon’s two-run double that put Loyola ahead 5-3.
“These guys truly believed for seven innings that we had a chance to win,” said Loyola coach Sean Buller. “We had a rough year last year, and we took that as our motivation this year to get to the playoffs. We know how good of a team we are, and in the playoffs, anything can happen.”
Hitting was not a strong suit for either team for most of the game, as the score was knotted at zero going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Brendon Cekada got the bats going for San Marcos with a single through to left field. The next two batters, Daren Orlando and Owen Estabrook, reached on bunts that were misplayed by Loyola to load the bases.
The Royals scored their first run on a bases-loaded walk by Emmett Speake, and Aiden Mandel followed with a double down the left field line that scored Orlando and Estabrook, increasing the San Marcos lead to 3-0.
“No matter what the situation, no matter how difficult, that kid will get in the box and believe in himself,” said San Marcos coach Wes Ghan-Gibson of Mandel. “That’s going to help him in life and help him with everything.”
TCU commit Chase Hoover put together an incredible performance in his final high school game. He worked out of a couple of jams in the early innings, struck out 11 batters, and pitched into the top of the seventh inning, but he was running up against the maximum pitch limit and had to exit the game after walking the first two batters in the top of the seventh.
“He’s the best of the best,” said Ghan-Gibson of Hoover. “ Chase has done everything we could have possibly asked him to do this season and his whole career at San Marcos. He’s the best pitcher to ever put on the San Marcos uniform, and that’s because he works his butt off and has that confidence.”
Junior Cole Schoenwetter entered the game with no out and two runners on and retired the first two batters he faced before walking Luca DiPaolo, after reaching a full count, to load the bases. The next batter, Carson Chavez, was hit by a pitch, cutting Loyola’s deficit to 3-1 and setting the stage for big hits by Shea and Urbon that put the Cubs ahead.
San Marcos still had one last chance to keep its season alive in the bottom of the seventh inning and nearly stole the game. Cekada reached base with a one-out walk and scored on a double down the line by Orlando, who advanced to third on a wild pitch with one out. The next batter, Estabrook, grounded to second base, but with the infield in, Orlando was unable to score on the play.
Emmett Speake grounded out to first base to end the ball game.