Long Beach Poly baseball made history on Wednesday afternoon against Wilson at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field thanks to a phenomenal pitching performance from senior Jesse Simon, and a first inning single from shortstop Chris Murphy.
The Jackrabbits took an early lead and never let the Bruins up off of the mat in a 2-0 Moore League victory. It’s the first time Poly has beaten Wilson since 2015.
“Any Moore League is a big one, especially when you get one against the big boys,” Poly coach Brent Lavoie said. This is only the second Poly win over the other three perennial playoff teams (Wilson, Lakewood, Millikan) since Lavoie took over three years ago.
“It’s nice to finally get these guys,” he said. “We’ve been chomping at them the last couple of years with one run ball games, today we came out on the other side of that.”
Simon and Wilson starter Jacob Ribitzki pitched so efficiently that the game only lasted 1 hour and 35 minutes. Simon (3-0) stayed undefeated on the mound while scattering four hits— two of which came in the seventh inning with two outs.
“He’s been fun to watch,” Lavoie said of Simon. “I’ve been calling less pitches and letting him run his own show and call his own games.”
The right-handed senior only needed 80 pitches to finish the complete game shutout. Simon threw a first pitch strike to 19 of the 24 batters he faced.
“We knew it was going to be a close game,” Simon said. “We knew we had to jump on them early, which we did, in another pitchers battle. I trust my defense. I only had three strikeouts today so they did a lot of the work for me. I’m just trying to throw strikes and be efficient.”
Wilson’s junior starter Ribitzki was equally effective while scattering five hits and two walks. The righty struck out three in six innings, and 53 of his 77 pitches were strikes.
“He throws three pitches for strikes and he doesn’t get fazed,” Wilson coach Andy Hall said of Ribitzki. “I feel bad for him because what more could he have done today? I’m more concerned with our approach at home plate. We let a lot of good pitches go by instead of really getting after the fast ball. My hats off to (Simon) because he looked very polished today.”
Poly scored the only runs in the top of the first inning when Troy Criss led off the game with a single. After a 2-out walk to Isaac Richardson, Murphy lined a clean single into left field. Criss came into score, and after Wilson’s left fielder over ran the ball, Richardson scored as well as Murphy motored around to third base.
Murphy, an All-Moore League shortstop, had started the season in an offensive slump. Lavoie moved him down in the order to get him back on track, and it worked. Murphy delivered the game-winning hit against Narbonne from the seventh spot in the lineup earlier this week. He was in the five hole on Wednesday.
“It’s a matter of confidence,” Lavoie said. “Everyone knows what Chris Murphy can do, and hopefully that’s the spark that lights the forest fire.”
Ribitzki got a ground out to end the threat in the first, and only allowed one other runner to reach scoring position.
The only Wilson base runner to reach scoring position was Ryan Pettway, who hit a 2-out single to right field in the seventh before Crixtian Taveras did the same and moved him to second base. Three pitches later, Simon got a fly out to end the game.
“We had a good couple of practices this week and everyone was excited for this,” Simon said. “This is a confidence booster for sure.”
LONG BEACH POLY
2B Troy Criss: 2 Singles, Run
1B Isaac Richardson: Walk, Run
SS Chris Murphy: Single, RBI
DH Jordan Guevara: 2 Singles, Walk
C Roberto Haycox: Single
3B Ryan Pettway: Single
PH Crixtian Taveras: Single
RF Ryan Smith: Single
RP Jason Silva: 1IP, 1H, 3 pitches