GLENDALE — A ground ball to second base appeared to have the making of a double play and the end of a breakthrough season for the members of the Flintridge Prep baseball team.
Flintridge Prep No. 9 hitter Dylan Arya figured the game was over while hustling to first base before he looked up to see the Rebels had caught a break on an error. Not long after, the Rebels would benefit from another miscue.
Flintridge Prep capitalized on both of them and staged a miraculous comeback, as it scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, including the winning run on a wild pitch following a strikeout, to pull out a 4-3 victory against Crean Lutheran on Friday in a CIF Southern Section Division VI quarterfinal contest at the Glendale Sports Complex.
“What you saw out there was crazy,” Arya said. “I even thought when I hit the ball that the game was over, but I kept hustling to first and we were given a second life.
“You don’t expect these things to happen, but it gives you confidence that you can win when something like this does happen.”
Fourth-seeded Flintridge Prep, which improved to 18-8 and will meet top-seeded Desert Christian Academy in a semifinal game on Tuesday at a site to be determined by a coin flip, took advantage of a second miscue by Crean Lutheran (20-8).
With the bases loaded and one out, Daniel Enzminger struck out on a 1-2 pitch. The pitch bounced past the catcher to the backstop, allowing Cole Rademacher to score the winning run and set off a celebration near the first-base line.
“Everything just seemed to go right for us,” Ezminger said. “It’s not often you come across a situation where you strike out to win a game.
“It’s not ideal, but it seemed to work for us.”
Flintridge Prep made its first appearance in the quarterfinals since 1997, the same season it last won the Prep League championship before accomplishing the feat this season after sharing it with Webb and Pasadena Poly. It then picked up postseason victories against Santa Paula and Kern Valley before turning back a Crean Lutheran squad that captured the Academy League title.
The Saints, who allowed just one run in their first two postseason games against Mesa Grande Academy and Tarbut V’Torah, turned aside several earlier scoring opportunities by the Rebels. Crean Lutheran starting pitcher Matt Markus had turned in a splendid effort for the Saints leading up to the seventh, yielding seven hits.
Flintridge Prep then turned things around in a hurry.
After Clayton Weirick lined out to center field to begin the seventh, Scott Tsangeos singled to left and reached second on the error that allowed Arya to reach base. Brenden McKiernan then tripled to deep right-center field to make it 3-2. Rademacher followed with a sharp single to right-center to tie it at 3. Cole Pilar and Karlsen Termini then walked to load the bases. Crean Lutheran reliever Adam Barrett came in and struck out Enzminger before the ball skipped past the catcher to score Rademacher with the decisive run.
Flintridge Prep first-year Coach Guillermo Gonzalez said the breaks came at the right time for the Rebels.
“A lot of things just happened out there, but we have a great hitting team that can take advantage of mistakes,” Gonzalez said. “We were given those chances.
“On the winning run, I’m over in the first-base coaching box and I thought the catcher caught the ball. The next thing I see is Cole [Rademacher] running home. It’s something that’s unbelievable.”
Crean Lutheran scored three runs in the fifth against McKiernan, who pitched his second complete game in the playoffs. Alex Erwin made it 1-0 with a run-scoring single. Adam Scimeme extended the lead to 2-0 with a run-scoring single before a bunt single by Ryan Mittelholtz padded the advantage to 3-0.
The Rebels countered with a threat of their own in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Markus induced Pilar to hit into an inning ending 5-2-3 double play.