The following article was published on the Register-Pajaronian website on May 5 and can be read HERE.
APTOS — The bases are loaded with a 2-2 count in the bottom of extra innings. It’s a scenario every young ball player has dreamt about being in at one time or another.
For Aptos High senior Alex Taylor, that dream became reality on Friday in the first round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs.
The No. 2-seed Mariners defeated No. 15 Half Moon Bay, 1-0, after Taylor crushed a bases-loaded, walk-off single into the right center field gap in the bottom of the eighth inning.
But, as heroic as Taylor’s at-bat was, it was almost overshadowed by the dominating pitching performances put on by both teams starting pitchers.
“I think (David Eichorn) giving us that extra seven and two thirds innings made the difference,” said Aptos junior shortstop Luke Keaschall. “He brought his best stuff today.”
Eichorn, a senior pitcher who plans to play for Cabrillo College next season, was utterly dominant in striking out 11 batters and surrendering four hits, according to Prep Baseball Report.
In the top of the fifth inning, Eichorn struck out the side with nine pitches, inducing four swinging strikes in the process.
Then he fanned the next two hitters he faced, bringing his consecutive strikeout total to five.
“Definitely a huge game,” Eichorn said. “I felt pretty good on the mound. I tried to really bring it and focus on putting the ball right in the catcher's glove.”
As dominant as the Mariners’ starter was, he was nearly matched by the superb pitching of Cougars starting pitcher Danny Guevara.
The junior ace used a pitching delivery reminiscent of former San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincicum, complete with the follow through that brought his trailing leg directly over head.
Guevara mowed down Mariner after Mariner scattering five singles over 7 and 1-3 innings pitched.
“I just tried to let my defense work for me,” Guevara said. “We are definitely going to use this over the summer to get us to the next round and advance in CCS next year.”
Guevara wore down in the bottom of the eighth, surrendering two walks before being pulled.
The first walk Guevara issued ended up being the game-winning run, spoiling what would have been a near flawless performance.
Both dugouts cleared in the sixth inning when a Half Moon Bay player attempted to steam roll Aptos junior catcher Jack Bollinger, who already had possession of the ball.
As a result, the Cougars’ player was ejected from the game for violating league rules, in the bowl over attempt, but both teams were soothed and play quickly resumed.
Minutes later, Keashcall took a fastball to the shoulder threatening to reignite tensions between the teams.
The Mariners, however, had their gaze fixated on earning head coach Jason Biancardi his first CCS win.
“We have some characters on this team with a lot of energy,” said Biancardi. “I was surprised, they handled it pretty well. One of (Half Moon Bay)’s guys got pretty aggressive, ran into one of our guys face. But the team knew that if they responded they would have gotten tossed.”
Aptos (19-6-1) travels to Half Moon Bay tomorrow to take on No. 10-seed Capuchino High (14-12) with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. In the event of a rain out, the game will be played in Aptos on Monday afternoon.