ARCADIA — For all the chances missed by the St. Francis High baseball team on a warm Wednesday afternoon, none of those misfortunes seemed to matter in a seventh inning filled with dramatics.
But just as suddenly as the Golden Knights had so dramatically evened the score and seemingly turned the tide in their favor, Glendora walked off with a 5-4 victory in the eighth inning of an Arcadia High Tournament contest.
“That’s big,” said St. Francis Coach Brian Esquival of his team rallying for two runs in the top of the seventh inning with two outs to send the game to extra innings. “[Glendora] is a pretty good team, right there.
“We battled and we competed, which is all I can ask for.”
Glendora (12-1-1), which is ranked second in CIF Southern Section Division II behind St. Francis’ Mission League rival Crespi, won the game on an unearned run when Joseph Winterburn, who had two hits and three runs batted in, singled home pinch-runner Josh Luevanos for a walk-off win.
“They capitalized on our mistakes,” said Esquival, whose team allowed two unearned runs, as the leadoff man reached base in the eighth on an error and Glendora tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the third when a two-out error allowed a run to score.
But Glendora’s eighth-inning heroics only came to be thanks to two-out hits in the top of the seventh by Golden Knights Andrew Yu and AJ Berglund to send the game into extra innings.
“I’m really proud of the way we played today,” said Esquival, whose team banged out nine hits, the same as Glendora. “It’s a good game for us. Yeah, we’re upset we lost, but we battled and that’s all I can ask for.”
St. Francis (8-6) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Berglund reached with two outs when he was hit by a pitch before Ethan Bramschreiber, who was two for two with two walks and an RBI, drew a walk. David Hubinger then clutched up and singled to right to score Berglund, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.
Thereafter, Glendora starter Jacob Cage held the Golden Knights at bay for the most part.
But in the sixth, St. Francis finally got one across again as Bramschreiber delivered a one-out single to score Andrew Yu, who was two for three with a run and an RBI.
Glendora had jumped ahead with a three-run outburst in the fourth against St. Francis starter Chris Longo.
Longo pitched in and out of trouble for four innings, allowing three earned runs as he labored through 79 pitches.
Brett Nelson later threw 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball to keep the Golden Knights within two runs heading into the top of the seventh.
Pinch-hitter David Olmedo-Barrera singled to left field on a full count with one out to begin the seventh-inning rally for St. Francis.
Brandon Van Horn, who had a pair of hits, followed with another single. Mark Saatzer then grounded into a double-play ball, but was able to beat the throw to first, leaving the Golden Knights with a small bit of hope that they ran with.
Yu then singled on an 0-2 count to cut the score to 4-3, scoring pinch-runner Brady Markel.
Berglund then notched St. Francis’ fourth single of the stanza, plating Saatzer to even the game.
A Bramschreiber walk loaded the bases, but, inevitably, St. Francis stranded its seventh runner of the day.
“We couldn’t capitalize on some chances,” said Esquival, whose team squandered two crucial outs on the bases when Hubinger ended the first and Van Horn was picked off second in the third.
Nonetheless, the Golden Knights return from spring break and return to Mission League play next week and Esquival believes Wednesday’s showing is evidence that they’re ready.
“Today’s performance really gets us ready for Tuesday,” he said. “That’s our goal this whole tournament.”