GLENDALE — When Flintridge Prep hosted Webb at the Glendale Sports Complex on Thursday, it promised to be a tight baseball game between two Prep league contenders ranked in the top 10 in CIF Southern Section Division VI and the result would be key in a tight league race.
To get the result they needed, the Rebels, ranked No. 9 in the division, were tasked with overcoming a Gaul squad ranked No. 2 in the division, yet to lose in league, and riding a 13-game win streak this season in addition to a six-game win streak versus the hosts over the last two seasons.
Early on it looked like Flintridge Prep would not be able halt the Gauls’ winning streaks, but the Rebels never let up and broke through with a four-run sixth inning to take the lead and then slammed the door in the seventh for a 5-3 win that puts them square in the hunt for the Prep league crown.
“We’re contenders in league right now,” Flintridge Prep first-year Coach Guillermo Gonzalez said. “That’s what I told the kids we wanted to be in the start of the season.”
Flintridge Prep (11-6, 5-2) trailed the Gauls, 3-1, heading into the bottom of the sixth inning and was only able to scratch out three singles off of Webb ace Aaron Digiamarino up to that point. However, things changed as the Rebels loaded the bases with no outs in front of Karlsen Termini. The senior promptly clobbered the second pitch of his at-bat to deep left-center field for a double that hit the wall on the fly and cleared the bases to give his team a 4-3 advantage.
“It was a fresh pearl, it was a new ball,” Termini said of the baseball he hit for the game-changing double. “[It was a] curveball. I saw he hung it and I just got on top of it. You know, eyes light up a little bit when you see that kind of stuff out there.”
Brenden McKiernan led off the frame with a single up the middle. Cole Rademacker followed with a sacrifice bunt, but reached when Digiamarino threw high to first. Cole Pilar followed by chopping the ball off the plate for an infield single to load the bases for Termini. Pilar’s chopper off the plate for a single was the third such hit for the Rebels in the contest.
“[The Rebels] got a couple balls to bounce their way. But again, if we define the game of baseball, it is a game of inches and whichever way it bounces — it bounced for us on Tuesday that way and it bounced that way at home for them today — so you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt,” said Webb Coach Jeff Stodgel, whose team had eked out a 6-5 home win over the Rebels two days before. “You are not going to win every ballgame.”
Flintridge Prep added an insurance run later in the sixth on a single with one out by Michael Weinstein to drive in Theo Rosenfeld, who was pinch-running for Termini. It was the second run batted in for Weinstein in the game. The junior also drove in a run in the fifth on a groundout for the Rebels’ first run.
Webb (13-2, 4-1) had one last chance to salvage the win in the seventh with Rademacker, who took over for starting pitcher Clayton Weirick to start the frame, on the mound. With one out and runners at first and second base, the Gauls got the go-ahead run to the plate, but Webb’s Joe Shaver grounded a hard shot down the third-base line that was cleanly fielded by Pilar. The freshman then stepped on the bag and fired a strike across the infield to narrowly complete the double play and win the day.
Webb scored a single run in the second, third, and fifth innings off of Weirick (3-1), who consistently got ahead of hitters and held on until his team broke through against Digiamarino, who finished with six strikeouts.
“[Digiamarino] starts really fast and really well,” Weirick said. “So I thought if I could go pitch for pitch, or at least keep it close, hopefully our offense could work it out.”
With the victory, the Rebels finish the season series with the Gauls at 1-2 and, more importantly, stay in the thick of the Prep league title race. Flintridge Prep is firmly entrenched near the top of the leader board at 4-2 in league and sits right behind now co-leaders Webb and Pasadena Poly at 4-1. However, that will change on Tuesday when Webb hosts Poly, a team Flintridge defeated earlier this season and will play two more times.
“We beat the best team in the league,” Weirick said. “Going on to the rest of the league, we feel we have a very sturdy footing and hopefully them playing against Poly will turn out in our favor.”