The Bishop Broncos fell to the Malibu Sharks, the number two ranked baseball team in CIF Division 6.
Bishop made the drive down Thursday, knowing they were the underdog. The good news, though the players may not have thought so on the long drive back from the coast, was the score: 6-10. The Broncos did Bishop proud, staying in the game despite a 1-8 deficit going into the fifth inning.
Malibu retired its pitcher in the fifth, then had to sit through the final three innings wondering if the decision was wise as the Broncos methodically chipped away at the Sharks’ lead.
Malibu had lost its closing pitcher in the final game of league play and had to save starter Noah Simon, with a 1.56 ERA, for round two of playoffs.
“We ended the season better than we started,” said coach Tim Reid. “I’m happy with the way we played. We’re a young team and we never quit, all season long.”
The Broncos could have had a chance at the upset were it not for a series of errors in a nightmarish fourth inning that gifted the Sharks with 4 of 6 runs. But, there’s no point in second-guessing. The one thing to take away from the game is this: the Broncos gave the Sharks a game.
The top of the first gave Bronco fans hope. Curran Simpson reached first base on a passed ball and Cy Scott singled into right field. With two runners on and only one out, Cam White, enjoying a streak at the plate, hit into left field but the Sharks pulled off a double play, bursting the Broncos’ bubble.
The Sharks didn’t have significantly better luck with Bishop’s defense. With Scott on the mound, 2 outs and two runners in scoring position, the pitcher handled a foul ball for the final out.
Graysen Hess made it to first on a walk in the top of the second, but the balance of the line-up was retired.
The Sharks’ bats broke through in the bottom of the second with 2 runs and a shot at a whole lot more. The first two batters got on base with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Both scored, one on an error, the second on a fielder’s choice that took a runner out at first. The Sharks led 0-2. Scott struck out Chase Lambert at the top of the batting order, walked the next two to load the bases. With a 2-2 count, Scott retired Bronson Bard to keep the game close.
Corey Thomson scored the first Bronco run in the third inning, reaching on a perfect bunt single, stealing second and coming home on a Scott sacrifice fly. Bishop cut Malibu’s lead in half at 1-2 and that’s where the score stood until the dreaded bottom of the fourth.
With one runner on, Lambert reached on a fielder’s choice, then scored on a single off the bat of Dylan Ross for an earned run. Then the wheels came off the bus. Errors figured in the next 4 runs; a sacrifice fly brought in the final run and the Sharks had a commanding lead at 1-8.
Bishop went back to work with Andre Simoneau on the mound for Malibu. Colton Riesen singled; Simpson reached on a fielder’s choice that took Riesen out at second. Carl Olsen singled, then stole second on a passed ball. Scott hit a ground ball single, scoring Simpson and Olsen. With two outs and the bases loaded, the final Bishop batter popped out to the center fielder but Bishop had taken its first nibble out of Malibu’s lead at 3-8.
White came to the mound, getting a rough start before shutting down the Sharks in the final inning. Alvaro Alvarado doubled, scoring on a Lambert sacrifice fly ball. With two outs and two runners on base, Frank Thomas singled in Malibu’s 10th and last run.
Simoneau walked Hess and hit Riesen with a pitch. Thomson advanced the runner with a sacrifice bunt. Simpson and Olsen both got taken out at first base, but allowed Hess and Riesen to cut Malibu’s lead in half at 5-10.
The Bronco defense held Malibu runless through the bottom of the sixth, bringing Bishop’s bats back for one last shot at the upset. White singled and brought in the final Bronco run on a fielder’s choice, taking one last bite out of the Sharks’ lead for a 6-10 final.
Reid’s 2013-14 varsity squad will look very much like this year’s. Scott, Simpson and Thomson will graduate, but that still leaves six returning starters. “We’ve got good years ahead,” said Reid.