ARCADIA — It's nothing spectacular, it's just St. Francis High baseball.
That's how Golden Knights interim Coach Aaron Milam described St. Francis' 9-8 comeback victory — capped by a walk-off, two-out double from Tynan Holmstrom in the bottom of the eighth — over Arcadia High in its own Apache Invitational Tuesday at Arcadia.
"We're St. Francis, we don't give in and that's the story," said Milam, whose team overcame an early six-run deficit with six players out with illness or injury and four players up from junior varsity. "We're St. Francis and we're resilient whenever we face adversity. …This was a long baseball game — it was three and a half hours — but we're St. Francis, that's all I can say. We're going to get after it anyway that we can and that's what you saw tonight."
Holmstrom's two-out double capped a seven-run comeback for the Golden Knights (7-9) in the final day of pool play in the tournament.
"It just happened to be me," said Holmstrom, a sophomore who went three for five in the game."It was a team effort, I just happened to be up."
Cole Ramseyer started the extra inning off with a double to the warning track in deep center, but was thrown out at third on a fielder's choice grounder. Jeff Garavaglia (two for four) beat out a potential double-play grounder in the next at-bat and came all the way around to score on Holmstrom's knock that just sailed over the outstretched glove of Arcadia center fielder Erik Trask.
Tei Vanderford made Holmstrom's game-winning hit over the Apaches (10-3) possible when he extended the game with a lead-off solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to knot the score at 8.
"I was just trying to put it through the right side, try to hit the ball hard and get on first base," said Vanderford, adding he knew it was gone as it left his bat. "I was not thinking extra bases at all, just trying to get on base as best I can."
The blast came with a full count as Vanderford, who was two for three with three runs batted in, waited back and sent the ball well over the right-field fence and finally tied game for the Golden Knights, who had trailed 8-2 after two innings.
St. Francis took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an Anders Schraer (one for two with three RBI) sacrifice fly and with Garavaglia scoring on a balk after leading the inning off with a single.
The lead didn't last long as Arcadia shot out to an 8-2 lead in the top of the second thanks to three hits, three walks — one intentional — two hit by pitches, and two St. Francis errors.
Will Larkin turned in a strong performance on the mound in relief for St. Francis. The lefty came in with one out in the top of the second and pitched the next six 2/3 innings and finished with eight strikeouts, three hits, two walks, two hit by pitches and two runs surrendered.
Larkin's performance on the mound inspired confidence in Milam.
"I felt like we were going to win this game in the fourth when Will Larkin started dealing," Milam said. "He gets in his groove and there's no problems. ... As soon as he started dealing in the fourth I had a ton of confidence at that point. I was confident we could chip away little by little."
That's what St. Francis did as Pete Hofman cut the deficit to five, 8-3, with an infield single as he blasted a line drive to second base, which Arcadia's David Dominguez snagged on a dive, came up and fired to first, but Hofman beat it to score Vanderford, who reached and moved to second on two errors.
A pitching change seemed to be what St. Francis needed to get going in the bottom of the fifth. The Golden Knights cut a five-run deficit down to one, 8-7, with six hits in the inning.
St. Francis started the inning with four straight singles, including a bases-loaded knock from Tommy Scheper to bring the score to 8-4.Vanderford followed that up with a sacrifice fly and Anders Schraer made it a one-run game, 8-7, with a one-out, two-run double down the left-field line.
"Beating a rival like Arcadia is the best feeling ever, it really hits home hard for all our guys," Vanderford said. "It's just an amazing feeling and we never thought we were out of it, even when it was 8-2."