High School Baseball: Estancia's chemistry key in playoff win

MONTEBELLO — The bond between baseball brothers on the Estancia High team only became stronger in the third inning at Montebello High.

A wild-card playoff game in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs can bring out the best in players. Yet, a highly questionable call against the Eagles also seemed to trigger some big-time energy from Estancia.

The Eagles responded well from a controversial hit-by-pitch judgment call. They scored five runs over the final four innings and pushed past Montebello, 7-1.

Estancia will play at South Torrance (17-10), the Pioneer League champion, in the first round Friday when the Eagles will be seeking their first first-round playoff win since 1992.

There were several heroes for Estancia (17-9) against Montebello (14-10). Senior Tyler Rios, who said he'll walk on at UC Riverside, pitched a complete game. He allowed six hits and struck out two.

He enjoyed how the Eagles responded from a call that went against them in the third inning.

Rios' inside pitch to Adam Rubio, caused the Montebello designated hitter to lean out of the batter's box. The pitch did not appear to have hit him.

But Montebello Coach Rafael Gutierrez called timeout to speak with Rubio. After they met, Gutierrez spoke with the plate umpire. Then the plate umpire met with his staff. After that the plate umpire ruled Rubio had been hit by the pitch.

Estancia Coach Nate Goellrich was stunned, but he wisely met with his team on the mound to calm his players down.

Rubio went to first to load the bases with one out. But Rios coolly induced a groundout and a deep fly ball out to get out of the jam.

"I don't want to say that play was a wake-up a call," Rios said. "It was like something that made us say, 'Let's go,' you know, 'Let's do this. Let's get down to it.' We wanted to get over it and just get past it."

Estancia responded with two runs in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth. The Eagles also made spectacular defensive plays to show they were in control of the game.

Second baseman Levi Stillman made two great grabs on high line drives in the fifth and sixth innings and center fielder Ben Beck dived to catch a fly ball in the fifth inning.

"The thing with Ben, I was already moving like the inning was over before he went to make that great catch," Goellrich said. "Ball's in center field, I know he can go get it. We know Ben."

Rios said he was happy to see the defensive plays.

"We've all played together since we were kids," Rios said. "Levi and I were coach's kids when we were in Minor B. It's just fun to see the kids you've grown up with go make plays."

Rios is a four-year varsity player. He experienced his second wild-card playoff win, but he said he wants that first-round win. He's confident the Eagles can get it.

They've had their fair share of adversity this season. They lost twice to Calvary Chapel last week and finished third in the Orange Coast League, but bounced back against Montebello.

The win gives Estancia confidence, Rios said. The Eagles remain confident because of their bond.

"We might not have the best pitching," Rios said. "But what we lack we make up for it with chemistry. We have good team chemistry. We play for each other."

Rios had one of the Eagles' nine hits and scored a run. Beck and Jackson Letterman had two hits each. Alex Chairez doubled and scored a run. Letterman scored three runs.


CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs

Wild card

Estancia 7, Montebello 1

Estancia 200 220 1 – 7 9 1

Montebello 010 000 0 – 1 6 3

Rios and Letterman. Martinez, Lopez (5) and Orozco, Rubio (5). W – Rios (4-3). L – Martinez. 2B – Chairez.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World