By Bonta Hill
SAN BRUNO — International High School took a 2-1 lead in the third inning over Stuart Hall before play was suspended Saturday afternoon — and it turns out, that was all it needed to advance to the North Coast Section Division V semifinals.
When play resumed Monday afternoon at Skyline College, Jaguars senior Clay Bloszies matched Stuart Hall pitcher Ben Carrasco pitch-for-pitch — striking out seven and allowing only two base runners to reach second base after the third inning — leading International to the one-run win and punching a ticket to Wednesday’s semifinal against second-seeded Head-Royce.
“Putting the ball in the hands of a senior, like Clay, it lets me sleep at night,” said International head coach Anthony Thomas. “I checked in with him [Sunday] and he said he felt good. In my opinion, it was the two best pitchers in the City on the mound today. If we advance, we can hopefully see him pitch in the [championship].”
International (22-3), winners of the Bay Counties League Central, didn’t do much offensively, which was a point of concern for Thomas.
But playing against Carrasco and the Bay Counties League West champs, the Jaguars knew they had their work cut out against one of the top pitchers in San Francisco.
Carrasco struck out eight batters after play resumed Monday, and showed even more resolve in the top of the sixth inning.
With runners on second and third with one out, the sophomore struck out the next two Jaguars hitters to keep the third-seeded Knights (16-6) within a run.
“[Carrasco] was phenomenal today. He has nerves of steel and I’m excited about his future,” said Stuart Hall head coach Eddie Russell. “It’s a tough way to finish the season, and we had one bad inning. Offensively, we just weren’t seeing the ball well today and you have to tip your cap to Clay Bloszies.”
Stuart Hall tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh, but wasn’t able to cash in on Spencer Palmer’s infield single. Palmer — who got himself into scoring position by stealing second — was stranded when Bloszies struck out Will Cambell for his 10th strikeout of the game.
The unusual circumstances of the suspended game didn’t affect either pitcher, especially in the fourth inning when they each struck out the side.
“For me, [the layoff] really helped because it broke up my start, and made it two separate games,” Bloszies said. “Every game we’ve lost this season we’ve made up and redeemed ourselves. Hopefully, we can continue to advance.”
The matchup was also a rematch from a game back on March 5, in which Stuart Hall won by the same 2-1 margin.
SH – Gerald Reader triples, Spencer Palmer scores
I – Brian Benavides singles, Griffin Wurzelbacher scores
I – Benavides scores on a throwing error
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