FOLSOM - Jeff Bauser's RBI-single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth saved the season for the Folsom Lake Falcons and ended a historic run by Ohlone College as the Falcons edged the Renegades, 10-9, in an incredible win-or-go-home game during the CCCAA Baseball Championship tournament on Sunday night at the Lake.
The win propels the host Falcons (40-7-1) to the championship game, where they will take on a rested Riverside City College squad on Monday, beginning at 11 a.m. RCC needs to win one game tomorrow to secure the championship, while FLC will need a DH sweep to capture its first-ever state baseball title.
Sunday's final game featured an actual pitchers' duel for six innings before the wheels fell off for both teams in a mind-boggling seventh inning that saw a combined 11 runs, 5 hits, 7 walks, and two lead changes … all in a cozy 69 minutes of action.
With the Falcons up, 2-1 through six innings, Damian Stone's clutch, 3-run double into right cleared a bases-loaded opportunity and capped off a four-run frame for Ohlone, putting the Renegades up, 5-2.
That lead didn't make its way to the eighth as the Falcons took advantage of some errant Ohlone relief work to regain the lead. A walk and a single were followed by what appeared to be a harmless fly ball to right, but instead, the play was actually catcher's interference, loading the bases with nobody out. From there, Folsom Lake used four run-scoring walks to grab a 6-5 advantage before Chris Catalano actually put bat on ball and drove in two more runs with a sharp single to right, putting the hosts up, 8-5. A run-scoring wild pitch capped off the seven-run FLC inning and when the smoke cleared, the Falcons led 9-5.
Ohlone, a team with multiple postseason comeback wins this year, notched a pair of runs in the eighth before pinch-hitter Will Jewel stunned the raucous FLC crowd in the top of the ninth with a game-tying, two-run home run over the centerfield fence, tying the game at 9.
Not to worry for the Falcons. Catalano led things off in the bottom half of the frame with a bunt single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Saso. On the play, Catalano was caught off of second base and appeared dead to rights, but some elusive footwork enabled Catalano to avoid the tag and return to second base.
That proved costly for the Renegades as Bauser ended the 4-hour, 2-minute game by scoring Catalano with the season-saving run for the Falcons and ending the Renegades' campaign at 45-6.
The whacky ending lessened the impressive pitching performance of both teams' starters. For the Falcons, Carter Delaney threw six innings of one-run ball before running out of gas in the seventh. He finished allowing five runs on eight hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
For the Renegades, Ethan Shaver allowed two runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts over six strong innings of work.
(Tony Altobelli, CCCSIA)