The varsity boys baseball team won its first round CCS game against Leigh High School yesterday, May 17.
Although the visiting Longhorns, as the 13th seed in the playoffs, were viewed by many as heavy underdogs, they played exceptionally well and kept up with the Eagles the entire game. However, LAHS still came out with a 7-5 win, thanks to senior Nolan O’Such’s clutch hitting and pitching in the late innings.
Before the game, LAHS had just come off a winning series against Palo Alto to share the DeAnza league title.
“We told ourselves not to do anything different, play the way we’ve been playing all year long,” catcher senior Shuyo Chang said. “We tried to stay comfortable from both sides of the field and just treat it as another game.”
The Eagles did just that. Thanks to senior Joseph Chedid’s outstanding outing, LAHS had no pressure on defense. Joseph carried a no-hitter through 4 and ⅔ innings with five strikeouts.
On the other side of the diamond, things were different. The Longhorns went through 4 different pitchers in the game, together giving up 11 hits, 5 walks and 7 earned runs in total.
“Depending on the pitcher, we kept on changing our batting stances, adapting to how they threw and I guess that helped us get hits,” Shuyo said.
It was not until the bottom of the second inning that the Eagles offensive came alive. Sophomore Chase Eller singled to left to score junior Dominic Gachina. Later in the same inning, junior Steven McLean grounded out to second to score junior Conrad Rogers to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead early on.
Although the Longhorn’s bats were often silent, their star player, junior Sam Dalaplane, came into the game in the bottom of the third to take over the mound. He not only quieted down the Eagles offense, but also came up with the team’s most important RBIs in the game. Sam went two for two with two doubles, driving in three runs. One of those doubles tied the game at the top of the sixth inning.
It was then, at the bottom of the sixth inning, that senior Nolan O’Such came to save the day. With the game tied five to five, Nolan hit a clutch two run single to left scoring Steven and Joe to give the Eagles a two run lead. This was the dagger.
“It was a clutch situation,” Nolan said. “He pitched an inside fastball and I was able to get a good swing on it.”
Nolan then came up to the hill to shut the door on the Longhorns. After Lehigh senior Scott Mercer reached base on a single with one out, Joe once again closed the game in double play fashion, as he did in the closing game of the series against Paly. Joe caught a laser in the hot corner off of sophomore Kyle Morrison’s bat for one out, then threw another laser to first to tag the runner out at first ending the game.
Nolan was the winning pitcher throwing for two innings, allowing two runs, three hits and striking out two.
“I switched up pitches a lot,” Nolan said. “I had trust in my cutter and it’s good to mix [the pitches]. My goal was to pound the zone, throw strikes and make sure I had a lot of movement in my fastball.”
The Eagles now look ahead to their next opponent, the St. Ignatius Wildcats from San Francisco. They are ranked number five in CCS going up against the number four LAHS.
“We just plan to attack every game, we don’t care who the opponent is, we play our game,” Nolan said. “It’s not about the opponent, if we play our game we can beat everyone out there.”
The Eagles will play at Washington Park in Santa Clara, on Saturday, May 19. Ace senior Luke Wiechec will be on the mound for the Eagles.