GLENDALE — Flintridge Prep's baseball team needed a win against Pasadena Poly in the schools' final Prep League matchup of the year to take the season series for the first time in a long time and keep alive a slim chance of capturing a share of the league crown in a tight three-team race.
Following two intentional walks to bring him up with the bases full in the bottom of the sixth inning, Rebels junior Daniel Enzminger blasted a two-run double that proved to be the difference in a 4-3 Rebels victory Friday afternoon at the Glendale Sports Complex.
"I mean I had to," Enzminger said of his game-changing hit. "I mean, after they took the bat out of Karlsen [Termini's] hands I knew I had to step up for my seniors. They played great today and went out with a bang. We went out with a bang."
The win for Flintridge Prep (14-8, 8-3) means it takes the season series from Poly, 2-1.
"Beating [Poly] is a big accomplishment for us because we're rivals," Flintridge Prep first-year Coach Guillermo Gonzalez said. "Like I told these seniors, we haven't won a series versus them since 1988 and I wanted them to go out with a bang. They got it."
Poly starter Caleb Lee, who went the distance allowing a scant three hits, ran into trouble in the pivotal sixth inning when he hit Rebel Cole Rademacker with one out and the game tied at 2. Rademacker found himself on third base four pitches later by way of a stolen base and then a passed ball.
"The problem with having Lee pitch is not having him catch and he's the best catcher in the league by far," Panthers Coach Wayne Ellis said. "They don't run willy-nilly on him, but that is all part of it. You give up something to get something."
Ellis then elected to intentionally walk Cole Pilar, who already had a 3-1 count, and then also immediately intentionally walked Termini to load the bases.
"Those were their two best hitters," Ellis said of the intentional passes. "They're going to make contact and they're probably going to get the run in. I thought we had a better chance the other way."
The move proved costly for the Panthers (12-7, 6-3), as Enzminger, facing a full count, hammered a Lee offering over the left fielder's head to bring in two runs and give Flintridge Prep a two-run cushion that proved to be key.
"I went down with two strikes on me and [Lee] threw me an outside pitch," Enzminger said. "I just went with it and it dropped and we got the win."
Poly got one run back in the top of the seventh with two outs. The Rebels committed two infield errors on separate plays that allowed pinch hitter Nathan Lee to score. Rebels hurler Brenden McKiernan got Griffin Carter to pop out to center field with the tying run at second for the junior's second win of the year against Poly.
"We have a great team here," said McKiernan, who went the distance. "It's great we can do something like [win the season series from Poly]. We haven't done anything in awhile."
The Rebels' victory also hands league-leader Webb (9-1 in league) at least a share of the Prep league crown it split last season with the 17-time champion Panthers. However, despite the loss, Poly's potential run to its 18th straight title is not over. If the Panthers win next at Chadwick and sweep the home-and-home series against Webb, they would finish the regular season with a share of the Prep League crown.
It's a scenario the Rebels now must hope for, because, assuming they take care of Rio Hondo Prep in their finale, they would end up in a three-way tie for first if Poly sweeps Webb.
"That feels great," Gonzalez said of the chance to still ending up on top the Prep standings, "because we haven't won a title in awhile. ... We take care of business with Rio Hondo and hopefully they beat Webb."
Poly's Zack Bern, who drove in four runs against the Rebels in a victory earlier this week, had both runs batted in for the Panthers. The junior hit a two-out single in the fourth to score Luke Asperger for the game's first run. He hit another two-out single in the sixth inning to briefly knot the contest at 2.
Flintridge Prep took its first lead in the fourth inning with two runs. Termini drove in the first with a single. The senior, who will attend Santa Clara next year and plans to walk-on the baseball team, then scored on an error.
"It is all hindsight right there," Ellis said of his sixth-inning strategy. "I probably would've done the same thing again. I wouldn't have hit [Rademacker] in the head with the pitch. That we wouldn't have done, but that's all part of it. You put the kid on, they're going to get around."