By Jeremy Balan
SAN BRUNO – If there was any doubt which baseball team was the best in the Bay Counties League West this season, Stuart Hall High School’s squad removed it on Friday at Skyline College.
Lick-Wilmerding hung with the top-seeded Knights and only trailed 3-1 through four innings, but Stuart Hall slammed the door shut on their second straight league title and an undefeated league season with a six-run fifth inning en route to a 9-1 victory.
The first five Stuart Hall batters in the fifth reached base and scored, and the surge was highlighted by a two-RBI double from senior right fielder Alex Asdourian and a two-out, two-RBI triple from catcher Gerald Reader.
Freshman second baseman Stephen Everest started the fifth-inning rally with a line-drive single to right field and finished 3-for-4 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI.
“Stephen is an outstanding player and for a freshman, he is extremely composed,” said Stuart Hall head coach Eddie Russell. “We also have four other freshmen that are good ballplayers, so I’m really happy I have a chance to work with these kids in the future and watch them develop.”
With the sizable lead, Stuart Hall standout starting pitcher Ben Carrasco handled the rest, retiring the final nine Lick batters of the game.
“You can always count on him to go out there and give 110 percent. It doesn’t matter if he has his best stuff or his worst stuff,” Russell said. “The kid is so mentally tough.”
The junior left-hander struck out seven and allowed just three hits, but ran into trouble in each of the first three innings and allowed a run in the third on a sacrifice fly from Evan Korn that scored Lucas Howard, who tripled earlier in the frame.
“I was having trouble with my off-speed pitches all game and once I ran into trouble, I just had to pound fastballs low and trust my defense,” Carrasco said.
The Knights (13-4) made solid contact throughout and totaled nine hits, but two outfield misplays by the Tigers (13-11) at the notoriously-windy stadium in San Bruno kept the Stuart Hall rally going in the fifth inning.
“They put some hits together and we made a couple of mistakes that didn’t help,” said Lick head coach Manny Granillo. “We went out there and battled. Things just didn’t go our way today.”
Stuart Hall gets the league’s automatic bid into the NCS Division V tournament, bit has not advanced past the quarterfinal round in five tournament appearances. This year, however, the Knights feel they can make a run deep in the tournament.
“With the chemistry we have and the way we work together as a team, I’m pretty confident that we’ll do some damage,” Russell said.
Lick will have to hope for an at-large berth to enter the NCS Division IV tournament and extend Granillo’s 22nd and final season with the Tigers.
“After 22 years, it’s been fun and I’ve put in a lot of time and effort,” Granillo said. “The kids know it and I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s time to move on.”
SH – Will Campbell scores on a wild pitch
SH – Stephen Everest singles, Gerald Reader scores
SH – Daniel Costa reaches on an error, Declan Ebeling scores
LW – Evan Korn hits a sacrifice fly, Lucas Howard scores
SH – Harry Conrad singles, Everest scores
SH – Alex Asdourian doubles, Costa and Ben Carrasco score
SH – Gerald Reader triples, Conrad and Asdourian score
SH – Ebeling reaches on an error, Reader scores