For nearly a month, Kevin Sim struggled to get back from a knee injury. And when the sophomore slugger returned to action, his timing was a little off.
On Saturday night, though, he timed a fastball, ripping a double into the right-field corner to score pinch-runner Jace Evans from first base and give Torrey Pines a 2-1 victory over Poway in a classic, 10-inning San Diego Section Open Division championship game at USD’s Fowler Park.
“I’d been struggling the whole game,” said Sim, who had reached on an error, grounded out twice and struck out before his walk-off hit. “So I was looking for something up in the zone, something I could stay on and drive. Honestly, I think my timing at the plate has been good, but my body is still a little slow to react.”
The reaction from his teammates was classic, pouring out of the dugout as Evans crossed home plate before a standing-room-only crowd.
“Kevin is nowhere near the hitter he was before the injury,” said Torrey Pines coach Kirk McCaskill. “It has been a tough rehab for him. He was rushing himself to get back and help the team. Well, he sure helped us tonight.”
Both baseball teams — the second-seeded Falcons (29-6) and the No. 8 Titans (28-8) — got help from their pitchers.
Poway starter James Benham went 52/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits. Nick Salafia allowed one run over four innings.
Torrey Pines starter Michael Schreiber went four-plus innings, allowing one run on five hits. Falcons ace Joey Magrisi flashed his usual devastating change-up, striking out five over four innings without allowing a hit.
Matthew Schlesener got the win, throwing a scoreless ninth and 10th with three strikeouts.
“I had another 20 innings in me,” said Magrisi, who reached his pitch limit. “I had a really good feel for the change-up.
“Poway has some really good left-handed hitters, but the change was working great against lefties.
“For me, this is a culmination. I won a title at Rancho Bernardo as a freshman, and now have one at Torrey Pines as a senior, playing with a great bunch of guys and a super coaching staff.”
Magrisi, who is 12-0 this season, finishes his high school career with 28 wins.
“He was every bit as good as advertised,” said Poway coach Bob Parry. “This was just an awesome game. We had runners on early in the game, hit balls hard, but they didn’t find grass. And Torrey’s outfielders ran down some balls. The two hottest teams were playing for a title, that’s for sure. It just came down to one hitter.”
John Maffei is a writer with the San Diego Union Tribune.