It took more than three hours for the Flintridge Prep baseball team to make the trip to Lake Isabella for a CIF Southern Section Division VI second-round playoff contest against Kern Valley on Tuesday.
Karlsen Termini felt sluggish following the long journey and struggled on the mound in the first inning, walking the first three batters he faced before being replaced by Clayton Weirick.
Weirick limited the damage and then finished up strong and Termini contributed three hits and four runs batted in to pace fourth-seeded Flintridge Prep to a 6-3 victory.
Flintridge Prep (17-8) will next meet Crean Lutheran in a quarterfinal contest Friday at a site to be determined. Kern Valley finished 18-9.
“Clayton came in and did an amazing job the rest of the way,” said Flintridge Prep Coach Guillermo Gonzalez, who guided the Rebels to a share of the Prep League championship for the first time since 1997. “After that first inning, he knew what to do and we came back confident that we could chip away at the lead.”
The Rebels, who won their first playoff game since 1999 with a 14-6 first-round victory against Santa Paula on Friday at the Glendale Sports Complex, took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a run-scoring single by Termini.
Kern Valley, which finished in a three-way tie for second in the High Desert League before beginning the playoffs with a 7-1 win against Upland Christian Academy, then saw Termini walk the first three batters before Gonzalez opted to bring in Weirick. The Broncs scored three runs, all charged to Termini, before Weirick put the clamps on them.
“I just had a tough time getting loose after the bus ride,” Termini said. “Fortunately, we have somebody like Clayton behind me who could come in and deal like he did.
“He stepped it up for us with a big effort.”
Weirick finished with five strikeouts and limited Kern Valley, which had won five games in a row, to three hits in a 78-pitch performance over seven complete innings.
Flintridge Prep, which fell to Kern Valley in the first round of the playoffs in 2009, responded by immediately chipping away at the deficit.
Scott Tsangeos had a sacrifice fly in the second to pull the Rebels to within 3-2. They tied it at 3 in the third on a run-scoring single by Termini before taking a 4-3 advantage in the fourth on an error by the shortstop.
Termini then registered a two-run double in the sixth to close out the scoring.
“I just wanted to find a way to pick up my team offensively,” Termini said. “I got some good pitches to hit and I squared up on some balls and got the hits.”
The Rebels finished with nine hits, including three from Dylan Arya. Ayra scored two runs for the Rebels, who got two runs and two stolen bases from Cole Rademacher.
Ayra said the Rebels, who have won four straight games, had plenty of time to regroup after the first-inning struggles.
“We had a good feeling that we could come back and put some runs up on the board,” Ayra said. “We had to stay patient and stick to our plan.”