Baseball Defeats Wilcox, Advances to CCS Finals

By Ian Tseng, Staff Writer

After soaring through the first two rounds of CCS, the 7th-seeded Eagles found themselves in a close matchup against the 11th-seeded Wilcox Chargers on Thursday, May 25. In what became a nail-biting display of highly competitive baseball, Los Altos narrowly snatched away the victory from Wilcox during an extra 8th inning, advancing to the Division I CCS Final for the first time ever.

“We didn’t give up,” coach Gabriel Stewart said following the intense contest. “Persistence. Courage. Pride. Poise.  That’s exactly what comes to mind right there. That’s why you win playoff games.”

Both teams had eventful starts to the game, demonstrating their strong desire to win. After senior Ryan Buchner drove sophomore Ben Parker to home plate for the first point of the 1st inning, Wilcox came charging back to score twice in the 2nd. However, senior Aidan Kelleher led Los Altos’s retaliation, sending fellow senior Max Higareda from second base to home with a line drive down left field to tally the Eagles’ second point and tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the 2nd.

After allowing the Chargers to score twice in the 2nd inning, junior pitcher Alex Reelfs clamped down on them, holding Wilcox runless with perfect pitching for the next three innings. During this defensive streak, junior Keenan Hanley was able to tag two Wilcox players inches from home base to prevent them from scoring. Nevertheless, Wilcox was able to tighten up defensively and held the Eagles scoreless during the same period of time.

“It was a battle and we knew it’d be,” junior Alex Reelfs said. “Personally, today wasn’t my best day at the plate, but I know I can get better.”

Both teams’ dry spells were broken in the 6th inning, when Wilcox was able to capitalize on an error from Keenan and take a 3-2 lead. Not to be outdone, the Eagles came storming back as senior Matt Truscott struck the ball down right field, as Zach Espiritu sprinted from second to home and tied the game at 3 points apiece.

A scoreless 7th inning forced the two teams into an extra 8th inning. With the game coming down to the wire, Alex pitched his best inning of the game and did not allow a single hit. Junior Colin Homan also contributed to the defensive effort with a diving interception of a line drive and a heave across the field to get a Wilcox player out at first base.

On offense, Max was able to make his way to third base through a base hit and errors from Wilcox’s catcher. With the Eagle’s win within grasp, sophomore Ryan Baum was finally able to seal the victory with a swing that sent the ball hurtling down centerfield. Ryan threw his helmet up in celebration before the ball even touched the ground, knowing that he had bought enough time for Max to score and beat Wilcox 4-3.

“I’d like to think that this was the best game of the season from sheer drama, what was at stake, and the quality of opponent,” Stewart said. “We had to overcome a lot of adversity and we had to make things happen when things weren’t going our way. And that’s what we did.”

The Eagles will seek the championship with a win against Westmont on Saturday, May 27.

 An earlier version of this article falsely reported that pitcher junior Alex Reelfs  was not able to play at the CCS finals game today, May 27.