Errors and a lack of timely hitting have plagued the La Cañada High's baseball team all year. It was no different in the Spartans' CIF Southern Section Division IV wild-card game against Summit High of Fontana.
An error-riddled fourth inning led to Summit putting up six runs in the frame. The Skyhawks rode the big inning to an 8-3 May 19 win after the Spartans took an early advantage, jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning.
"We had the momentum going into the fourth inning, but there were a lot of errors that switched the momentum to the other side," La Cañada's shortstop Clayton Herrmann said.
The fourth inning started out calmly enough with a runner reaching base on a walk with one out, but the floodgates opened in Summit's favor after a routine double-play ball was botched in the infield.
"That was huge," said Brendon Shoemake, who started the game on the mound for La Cañada. "I am not sure how many errors there were, about six or seven. If we didn't make them, we might have won."
It looked like the Spartans (11-11) were going to climb back into the game in the fifth inning. Shoemake led off the inning with a double — finishing the game two for four with two doubles — and the next two runners got on to load the bases with no outs. La Cañada couldn't come up with a big hit against the Skyhawks (12-11-1), though, as two strikeouts and an infield pop-up led to a scoreless fifth.
Even reaching the CIF wild-card game was an accomplishment for the Spartans. The team's playoff chances looked bleak just three weeks ago. They were riding a two-game losing streak with three games left in the regular season and needed to sweep the rest of the way for a shot for an at-large bid.
"We knew we had the talent, we just weren't able to turn it around," Herrmann said.
That all changed when La Cañada did just what it had to in the last three games of Rio Hondo League, defeating San Marino (4-2) May 4, Monrovia (4-3) May 5 and South Pasadena (7-2) May 10.
"Everyone really came together [in that stretch]," Shoemake said. "When we beat Monrovia it got really emotional and people started caring a lot more. We got hot after that game — it's just unfortunate it was at the end of the year."