Baseball: Matadors lose unofficial league championship game against the Spartans

Sophomore+Josh+Huang+is+tagged+out+at+home+plate+to++put+an+end+to+innings.+Each+inning%2C+the+Matadors+stranded+runners+on+the+base%2C+which+created+a+lot+of+frustration+for+the+players%2C+coaches+and+fans.+Photo+by+Pranav+Iyer.+

Sophomore Josh Huang is tagged out at home plate to put an end to innings. Each inning, the Matadors stranded runners on the base, which created a lot of frustration for the players, coaches and fans. Photo by Pranav Iyer.

Pranav Iyer

Two teams with 10-3 league record. A 1-1 split in the series. Two games left in the regular season. Robert Braunstein of CalHiSports Bay Area on hand. On May 11, the unofficial El Camino League championship game took place at MVHS. The winner to clinch at least a tie of of first place and the tiebreaker.
“It definitely felt like a CCS game,” senior Surya Kumaraguru said.
Both the Matadors and the Spartans brought their aces for this all important match. Kumaraguru and the Spartan’s senior Jack Banks rank in the top five in ERA, strikeouts and wins, according to MaxPreps. And throughout the game, the two why they are among the league’s elite.
Despite Kumaraguru’s 0.90 ERA coming in, the Spartan batters were able to rattle him early on. In the top of the first, junior Cullen Blanchfield took off from first to steal second. At the same time, junior Bryce Rau hit a bomb to deep left center. Blanchfield’s head start allowed him to get all the way home to give the Spartans a very crucial first run.
In the second, the Spartans were able to find their way again onto base, started off by a leadoff single by junior Grant Gambetta. That was followed up with two infield singles, one on a grounder and the other on an extremely short bunt, to create a bases loaded situation with no outs. However, Kumaraguru and the Matadors realized

Sophomore Josh Huang is tagged out at home plate to put an end to innings. Each inning, the Matadors stranded runners on the base, which created a lot of frustration for the players, coaches and fans. Photo by Pranav Iyer.
Sophomore Josh Huang is tagged out at home plate to put an end to innings. Each inning, the Matadors stranded runners on the base, which created a lot of frustration for the players, coaches and fans. Photo by Pranav Iyer.

what was on the line and immediately regained their composure. Following a strikeout, Gambetta was picked off at third and the ensuing batter lined out to end the inning. Three runners were left on base and the Matadors survived unharmed.
Taking advantage of the potential disaster they escaped, MVHS got two men on base in the bottom of the second. With the runners on second and third with two outs, Li was not able to pull through for the Matadors and instead flied out to end the inning.
With solid pitching from Banks, the Matadors made the most of the the Spartans miscues when they could in the third. A routine grounder by Iwamoto resulted in an error; the throw got past the first basemen allowing Iwamoto not only to get on base but also extend it to second due to his extra effort. On the ensuing at bat, he advanced to third on a wild pitch and with one out in the inning, Ding’s single brought him home to even up the score at one.
“We’ve been behind all season almost,” head coach Nick Bonacorsi said. “That doesn’t bother us anymore at this point. Were almost used to it.
After Iwamoto’s score, neither team was able to string together continuous offense even though the Matadors were able to get runners in each of those innings. In fact, they stranded runners in each and every inning. The combined efforts of Banks and senior Steven Schynert, who came in relief, helped keep home plate on lockdown.
“They threw everything they had at us and we outhit them, actually, 8-6,” Bonacorsi said. “Offensively, we did okay. Our biggest struggle was that we just weren’t able to get that one big hit that was going to drive in a couple runs.”
The top of the sixth came and the score was still deadlocked at one. Junior Matthew Zepeda got onto base with a leadoff single and from there, the Spartans played tactical baseball. Another beautifully placed bunt, put Zepeda

The Spartan's dugout erupts after junior Grant Gambetta scores what turned out to be the game winning run. In a pitching duel, each run had a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Photo by Pranav Iyer.
The Spartan’s dugout erupts after junior Grant Gambetta scores what turned out to be the game winning run. In a pitching duel, each run had a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Photo by Pranav Iyer.

in scoring position and a groundout moved him to third. Two outs with a runner on third and junior Jacob Orlov came through what might have been the biggest hit of his high school baseball career, as he brought home Zepeda with a clutch RBI single. Kumaraguru blamed the run on his indecisiveness on the pitch that sent Zepeda home.
“It’s a lot of frustration because going into that,” Kumaraguru said. “I had a gameplan and I wanted to throw a pitch, decided to go against it, and you can’t have that second doubt as a pitcher. You have to trust that gut instinct.”
It came down to the bottom of the seventh. The last chance the Matadors had to get their hands on their first league championship in years. With two outs and nobody on-base, all the pressure was on senior Ryan Granzella to convert. And he did just that by singling to extend the game. But Kumaraguru, on the following at bat, flied out to end the game. Once he saw the catch made, he released all his frustration by slamming his helmet on the ground.
A league championship would have given them seven extra points for CCS seeding and likely allowed them to host

Senior Surya Kumaraguru shows his frustration after flying out to end the game. Emotions were high throughout the game because of its importance. Photo by Pranav Iyer.
Senior Surya Kumaraguru shows his frustration after flying out to end the game. Emotions were high throughout the game because of its importance. Photo by Pranav Iyer.

a playoff game.
But despite, the loss a lot of promise was shown in the Matador’s ace, as seen by Bonacorsi.
“He pitched the game of his life today and unfortunately, we couldn’t get him the run support he needed to get the W but that doesn’t take away anything from what he did on the mound,” Bonacorsi said.
The following Friday, May 13, the Matadors defeated the Gunn Titans 3-2 to capture the season series and end their regular season with a 16-11 (11-4) record. However, on the same day, the Spartans defeated the Santa Clara Bruins 6-2 to claim the outright league title.
On Selection Sunday, MVHS was seeded 15th in the CCS Division I Baseball Tournament. They are faced with a rematch against the two-seeded Willow Glen High School on May 17 at 4:00 p.m., whom they lost to 1-0 on Mar. 8 despite Iwamoto’s no hitter.
“The good news is theses guys have been there before,” Bonacorsi said. “They know what it’s like to be in the tournament and they’ve won the opening game already before, so I think we’ll be ready.”