Photos by John Diepenbrock
On Saturday afternoon, the varsity Bears baseball team fell 6-3 to the Valley Christian Warriors, coming just short of their upset hopes.
As the eighth-seed Bears against the first-seed Warriors, who are also ranked 25th in the nation, the Bears knew they had an uphill battle, but still an opportunity to pull off a huge win.
Valley Christian is led by siblings junior outfielder Tatum Marsh and sophomore infielder Quentin Marsh, who have both verbally committed to Stanford.
The Bears started the game strong, as a single by reliable senior outfielder Davis Phillips, a walk worked by sophomore shortstop Will Roberts, and a single from junior first baseman Rowan Kelly loaded up the bases. M-A was not able to capitalize on the early opportunity, leaving them without a run in the top of the first.
Senior George Zaharias started the game for the Bears. In the first, Zaharias gave up three runs after a few walks and defensive miscues. In the second, Zaharias surrendered two more runs to Valley Christian. He was able to settle down after some early struggles to go two and two-thirds innings of scoreless ball.
Offensively, the Bears never gave up, putting together good at-bats and rallying every inning. Phillips delivered two more hits in the ballgame, including a hard double down the line in the third inning that came around to score after some good situational hitting.
Phillips said about his performance, “I knew it was my last year playing baseball so I wanted to go out with a bang. I’m just glad I was able to deliver for this team.”
In the fifth inning, Phillips helped ignite another rally, and he came around to score after a hit from Kelly, bringing the Bears down just three with a score of 5-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, junior Harrison Long entered the game to pitch and had a stellar day, surrendering zero earned runs in a short outing.
In the sixth, the Bears scratched across one more run, when freshman second baseman Ryder Kelly drove a ball past the second baseman that scored junior outfielder Adam Chane.
Kelly has only played a few games with the varsity team after a late call-up, but has contributed quickly. He said, “I was looking for a fastball, see if I could put it in play and knock in a run, and I did just that.”
The sixth ended after a pair of questionable calls closed the window of opportunity, and the Bears couldn’t make a full comeback in the seventh.
Coach Jordan Paroubeck said about the team’s performance, “It was the same effort from the first game of the season to the last game of the season. This team never took a pitch off, whether we were up by 10, down by 10, we always believed we were gonna win.”
As for the future, Ryder Kelly said, “It’s good that this upcoming year I’ll be a leader for this team, and strive for more victory in CCS. We’ll be here next year.”
The Bears end their season after their first PAL league championship in over 50 years, falling in the highest division of CCS playoffs to powerhouse Valley Christian.