Long Beach Poly entered Friday afternoon’s CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoff game as the decided underdog, with a 15-16 overall record, a fourth place finish in the Moore League, and the dubious history of not having advanced to the second round of the postseason since 2006. Their opponent, Fullerton, was the Freeway League champion and the home team.
That’s why they play the game. The Jackrabbits got a stunning effort from Jesse Simon, who threw a complete game two-hitter, and they pulled off a 2-0 upset.
“Yeah it was a fun one today,” cracked Poly coach Brent Lavoie after.
It hadn’t been the season Poly had hoped for up to that point. The Jackrabbits wanted a first Moore League title in six years, what would have been just their second in the last half century. But instead Poly lost to Cabrillo for the first time ever and finished in fourth, with a .500 league record.
Earlier in the week the Jackrabbits won a Wild Card round game against Sage Hill, and Lavoie loved what he saw in practice the next day.
“They showed up at practice with the hunger in their eyes, they were confident they could get another one,” he said.
In truth, they surprised even their coaches. Simon threw three innings out of the bullpen on Wednesday against Sage Hill, and Lavoie told him he’d get the start for Friday’s game, and asked him to give the Jackrabbits a few solid innings. “As a joke right before the game I said, ‘Or if you want to throw a CG we’d be okay with that, too.’ We all got a chuckle after that.”
Simon threw a CG gem, needing just 80 pitches to finish off the playoff shutout. He pounded the strike zone and trusted his defense, which turned three double plays behind him.
Simon contributed at the plate, too, giving Poly the lead in the fourth inning with an RBI hit to score Edgar Rosales. The next inning Daniel Mariscal got a solo homerun from the nine hole.
“We said it’s a hitter’s park, let it fly, and oh my goodness, it was a no doubter,” said Lavoie.
Simon made the 2-0 lead stand up, although the bases were loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lavoie said Rosales had a diving catch to help the Jackrabbits escape the threat and put them into the second round, where the team hasn’t been since its players were just a few years old.
“It was a fun bus ride, the guys were excited, they’re pumped up and they truly believe,” said Lavoie.
Poly will hit the road for a third straight postseason game, traveling to take on Temescal Canyon on Tuesday afternoon.