Vince Brown, Tustin High School's first-year baseball coach, was more relieved than anything else Friday after watching the Tillers beat Ramona, 6-2, in the first round of the Southern Section 3-A playoffs at Tustin.
"The playoffs are scary," Brown said. "It doesn't matter who you are. When I was an assistant at Mater Dei, we'd win the league and lose in the first round."
After a week off, the Century League champion Tillers (19-4) appeared a bit rusty, but it was Ramona, the No. 3 representative from the Ivy League, that suffered from playoff jitters. The Rams (15-10) committed two errors in the first inning, enabling the Tillers to score twice and give senior left-hander Steve Surico an early lead.
Surico, who will play at Loyola Marymount next year, struck out 11 and walked only one in six innings while earning his 10th win in 11 decisions. He faced the minimum nine batters through the first three innings and allowed only four hits through six, but was replaced by Chris Floth in the seventh after giving up two runs in the sixth.
Floth's two-run double to right-center in the fourth inning put the Tillers ahead, 4-0. Tustin added two more in the fifth when Pooler and McMahon grounded into fielder's choices.