Photography by John Diepenbrock
On Friday afternoon, the varsity boys’ baseball team defeated the Sequoia Ravens in a comeback win to remain undefeated in league play.
This was junior outfielder Rowan Kelly’s first game for the Bears, following his transfer from Bellarmine High School and commitment to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He said, “I transferred to M-A because I love my boys, wanted to go to school with them, and missed them while going to school everyday. At the end of the day, I’m glad to be a Bear.”
Kelly’s debut was long awaited, and he immediately added a spark to the offense, showcasing his good bat-to-ball skills and great hustle as he beat out a grounder for a single in his first at-bat, and stole second base before being stranded.
On the hill for the Bears was junior Harrison Long, who got out of the first inning with no damage after giving up a hit.
The Bears were able to muster up a baserunner after senior outfielder Eamon Smith-Roberts was hit by a pitch, and he advanced to second on a sophomore Jimmy Zaharias second before a couple of strikeouts ended the opportunity.
In the bottom of the second inning, things went sour for M-A. Long gave up a hit to the first batter, who proceeded to score after a stolen base and a double from a teammate, putting the ravens up 1-0 early. A hit batsman and another walk combined with some sloppy play led to two more Ravens crossing the plate, making the score 3-0.
Still, the Bears quickly started a rally, led by senior outfielder Davis Phillips, who got on base to lead off the inning.
Phillips said, “I knew he was gonna be pounding me with that fastball because his offspeed wasn’t working so, so when I got one down the middle I sent it through a gap.”
Sophomore shortstop Will Roberts got on with a bunt single, setting up Kelly with runners on second and first. Kelly got a pitch he could handle and crushed one deep into the left-center gap, hitting the wall as both runners came in to score and he pulled into second with a double.
Kelly advanced to third on a bunt from junior catcher Trevor Heinz and scored a run to tie it up with some heads up baserunning on a wild pitch. On his debut, he said, “Coming back from a shoulder injury, I rehabbed really hard. I put in a lot of work in practice and after practice and just prepared myself to be successful, so it feels great to be back.”
In the bottom of the third, Long got back on the mound and went to work, quickly working through the inning with a strikeout and two groundouts.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Bears were able to get ahead of the ravens, as junior second baseman Shaun Pagee got on base and advanced to second on a bunt and third on a wild pitch before coming home to make the game 4-3 on a Philips single.
In the bottom of the fourth, junior outfielder Luke Durden made the play of the game, saving an extra-base hit with an impossible over the shoulder catch in deep center field. His defense as well as Long’s great recovery kept the Bears ahead through the fifth and sixth inning.
Long said, “I had one tough inning, and I just went back into the dugout and decided that if I were to stay in the game I had to battle back, work, get some outs, and let the offense roll.”
Long finished the day with six innings pitched, yielding just three hits and two earned runs, while striking out five batters.
In the top of the seventh inning, M-A had one last chance to add some insurance. Phillips got on first with a walk and Roberts got a hit and advanced to second on an error. The Ravens wisely intentionally walked Kelly with a base open, and Phillips was able to score on a wild pitch to add to the Bears’ lead, putting them up 5-3 before the end of the seventh.
Junior Noah Whittaker slammed the door shut, giving up one hit before settling down with a groundout and two electric strikeouts that fired up the whole team and put the game away for good.
The Bears moved to 3-0 in PAL league play and 8-3 overall. They play their next game against Woodside High School on Monday afternoon.