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High School Baseball: Sage's playoff run ends

Lightning exits from CIF Division VI, after rally falls short against Desert Christian, the top seed.

June 02, 2010|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Don Leach / Daily…)

NEWPORT COAST — Alex Jimenez goes by "Boom" at Sage Hill School. He showed up to the baseball field one day three years ago with a hat that read, "Boom."

For 5 2/3 innings at home Tuesday, the hat fit Jimenez on the mound. He was on his way to turning off the lights on top-seeded Desert Christian's season.

In a CIF Southern Section Division VI semifinal game, the Lightning had upset on their minds. Their starter was one out away from throwing six scoreless innings against a team that had only lost once this season.

Just one more out and Jimenez allows Sage Hill to enter the seventh with the lead and believing the program's first section title appearance was realistic.

With the Lightning ahead by one, Jimenez jumped ahead of the batter with an 0-2 count. Still ahead, Jimenez fired a pitch that Coach Andy Berglund wishes he had not.

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"That was the pitch that I was supposed to throw," Jimenez said of a fastball high in the strike zone. "It's just up in their face, so they see it fat, but they can't hit it fat.

"I really need to work on throwing that pitch, because almost every time we call it, I leave it about letter high, and that's the kill zone."

Desert Christian pounced on the opportunity. One swing of the bat is all it took to swing the momentum the other way.

Tyler Shryock tied the game with a home run to right field. The Knights weren't finished in the sixth, scoring three more times to take a three-run lead.

Sage Hill fought back in the bottom half of the seventh, scoring twice and then loading the bases with two outs. Starter Taylor Aikenhead got the third out and Desert Christian a 4-3 victory.

The Lightning (20-6) were left stranded at home.

The Knights (26-1) rode back to Lancaster with their 19-game winning streak intact. They haven't lost since March 23.

Berglund understands why his team fell short of reaching Friday's championship game at UC Riverside.

"You can't expect a team that comes in with 350 runs to not try to put some runs on the board," Berglund said of the Knights' big bats. "They got those four huge runs in the [sixth]."

The first run didn't bother Jimenez (8-3) as much as the one that gave Desert Christian its first lead. That's where things eventually got away from him.

Jimenez looked strong heading into the sixth, the inning before he gave up his only hit. After he got the first two batters he faced out in the sixth, the senior then ran into trouble.

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