Falcons start fast, hold on in Coastal baseball showdown
A five-hit, five-run first inning — helped along by a walk, four wild pitches and a passed ball — could well change the road to the Coastal North County League baseball championship.
Torrey Pines High followed that five-run first inning with three more runs in the second and escaped with a 10-5 win Saturday afternoon over No. 1-ranked San Marcos.
Now, after winning the three-game series with San Marcos two games to one and with seven league games remaining in the season, the No. 8-ranked Falcons (14-7, 6-2) control their destiny in the league.
Torrey Pines has a pair of three-game series against Rancho Bernardo (13-8, 4-4) and Carlsbad (9-11, 3-5), and a single league game against Poway (11-10, 3-5) remaining.
San Marcos has three games against Poway, three against La Costa Canyon (12-8, 2-6) and a single game against Carlsbad left to play.
“All we wanted was to give ourselves a chance to win this thing,” said Torrey Pines coach Tommy Simis after the Falcons won 7-1 over San Marcos (15-3-1, 6-2) on Thursday after losing the first game of the series 4-3 on Tuesday.
“We were on a little bit of a slide coming into this series (losing four of the last five), but the guys like this Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday deal. It allows you to get into a rhythm. The key for us is finishing games. We’ve had the lead in all but two of our losses.”
The Falcons nearly let Saturday’s game fly away.
Trailing 10-1, San Marcos rallied for four runs in the fifth and had a runner on when Simis summoned junior left-hander Dougie Jutronich from the bullpen.
Jutronich, who had thrown two innings all season and hadn’t appeared in a game since March 24, retired the next two batters on lazy fly balls to center to get out of the inning.
He retired the side in order in the sixth, and got the first two batters in the seventh before issuing a two-out walk.
He finished the game in style with a strikeout — his first of the season — saving the game for starter Grayson Bonanno (3-0).
“I’m not a strikeout pitcher,” said Jutronich. “I’m not exactly that guy. But I get the job done.”
“My job is to get outs any way I can. Hitters put the ball in play against me, but my guys play great defense, so that’s OK.”
For San Marcos, Ryan Rivera had a single, triple and walked; Brett Williams had a single and double; and Conner Gomez drove in two. The Knights left eight runners on base.
Torrey Pines got a huge offensive contribution from catcher Junior Barajas.
The left-handed hitting Barajas had a two-RBI single in the first inning, a two-RBI single in the second inning and a long two-run homer in the fourth to give him a six-RBI game.
He entered Saturday with seven RBIs on the season, hadn’t driven in a run in his last six games and had never had more than two RBIs in a varsity game.
“That was a crazy day,” Barajas said. “I had been struggling at the plate lately, but I was starting to figure it out.
“I was trying to stay back and drive the ball the other way.”
All three of his hits, however, went to right field. His only out was a well-struck ball to left.
“This is a huge win because San Marcos has a great team,” Barajas said. “We got off to a hot start and kept the pressure on.”
“We’re in control of the league now. All we need to do is keep winning.”
Liam Kelly also had three hits for Torrey Pines while Peyton Rogers and Ryan Flather both had two hits with one of Flather’s a home run. He had two RBIs and scored twice.
Reece Dixon had a double was twice hit by a pitch and scored three times.
“Obviously, not our best day,” said San Marcos coach Jeff Dufek. “Our pitchers had trouble throwing breaking balls for strikes and good teams will jump on fastballs.
“There is a lot of league play left. We’ll make some changes and see what happens.”
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