Since he was 10, Dylan Dennis has played baseball with most of his Mira Costa High teammates on fields and diamonds in Manhattan Beach. With the start of the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs on Thursday, everyone knew their time together could end at any moment.
So there was Dennis at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, a three-and-two count and his team down by one run against San Juan Capistrano JSerra.
“Honestly, I wasn’t good all day,” Dennis said.
He rose up to deliver the biggest hit of his career, a two-run double that enabled Mira Costa to rally for a 3-2 victory and keep its season alive.
“I knew he was a good pressure hitter, but that was something else,” shortstop Chase Meidroth said. “It was crazy.”
Things looked pretty bleak for Mira Costa. Gage Jump, a sophomore left-hander for JSerra, had a no-hit shutout for 5 2/3 innings while striking out 10. He retired the first 13 batters in order. The Mustangs were down 2-0 when Jump was pulled because he had thrown 95 pitches. In came Jared Glenn with two outs and one runner aboard in the bottom of the sixth.
Nick Carpino greeted him with an RBI single. Kyle Karros followed with a single. Up came Dennis.
“That kid, Gage Jump, was really good,” Mira Costa coach Keith Ramsey said. “I feel for the team that has to face him the next two years. We couldn’t get ahead of him the whole day. I give credit to our guys for battling. That’s why you have 21 outs.”
Dennis lined the two-run double down the left-field line. Karros was going on the pitch and scored from first base for the go-ahead run. Players came out of the dugout to celebrate. With one swing, a certain defeat would soon turn into a certain victory, because standout senior pitcher Jared Karros would throw the seventh. Karros had a one-two-three inning to send Mira Costa into a second-round game at home against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Tuesday.
“We’ve done blood, sweat and tears together,” Dennis said of his longtime teammates. “We’re getting another day and another couple practices. I’m glad I could keep everyone together.”
The 32-team field is down to 16. Tuesday’s match-ups:
Orange Lutheran at Etiwanda; Studio City Harvard-Westlake at Chino Hills Ayala; Aliso Niguel at Lake Forest El Toro; La Puente Bishop Amat at Huntington Beach; La Mirada at Palm Desert; Notre Dame at Mira Costa; Yucaipa at Valencia West Ranch; Cypress at Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley.