Just six days after suffering a heartbreaking extra-inning loss on their home field, the Millikan Rams found themselves on the other side of an improbable comeback. Down to their final out against Wilson under the lights on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field Thursday night, the Rams were able to walk off with a 3-2 victory when senior Daniel Murillo scored all the way from second base on a wild pitch.
“Wow. I mean, we’ve been on the other side of these games this year, so it’s nice to be on this side,” said Millikan head coach Ron Keester of winning in come-from-behind fashion. “Their guy threw a great game, our guy threw a great game, it was just a really good high school game. And to be able to play one time here (at Blair Field), be able to play Wilson here at night, and experience a crowd and everything is awesome. And then for the game to go to extra innings and to be able to win it in walk-off fashion is just really great for our kids.”
Even Millikan’s late-game heroics couldn’t overshadow the performance of Rams starting pitcher Myles Patton, who was sensational on the mound. The junior lefthander worked 5.2 innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while racking up an eye-popping 14 strikeouts. Patton leaned more heavily on his curveball against Wilson rather than his trusty change-up, and he was consistently missing bats all night. He had at least two strikeouts in every inning, and struck out the side in the first and the fourth.
“I was just trying to keep my focus on making every pitch the best pitch I could,” Patton said after the game. “I was trying to put it in a good spot where they couldn’t hit it hard. My change-up was a little sketchy tonight but the curveball was working, so I was just keeping them off balance and throwing strikes.”
Patton relished the opportunity to pitch a night game under the lights, and didn’t miss the chance to impress during his first start on the Blair Field mound.
“It was just so exciting,” Patton said. “All our games so far have been at 3:15 and today was like the longest four hours of my life in my house just waiting for the game to come. I think everybody’s just so excited to get out here again and play in this beautiful stadium, we were all on our A game for sure.”
His counterpart from Wilson wasn’t too shabby either. Wilson junior Charlie Royle went 7.2 innings, allowing one earned run on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Royle was also quick to give props to his opposite number, chiming in during Patton’s postgame interview to say, “That was the best damn high school performance I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”
Even as Patton was racking up the strikeouts, the Wilson offense did break through for a couple runs thanks to some timely hits. After a two-out walk to John Lanterman in the second inning, Zach Wakefield crushed an RBI double to deep left to put the Bruins on top early.
Millikan evened the score in the third with a two-out RBI of their own, as senior Dean Ormonde’s infield single scored Anthony Godfrey, who had reached on a bloop double down the first base line and moved to third on a fielder’s choice.
The tie held until the top of the sixth, when a Bruins walk again turned into a run. After earning his free pass, Brett Abudayyeh stole second with two outs to get into scoring position for senior DJ Erkman. That proved to be a pivotal steal as Erkman’s single through the left side allowed Abudayyeh to bring home the go-ahead run. The four baserunners who reached against Patton were all significant: both walks he issued came in to score, and both base hits drove in runs.
It looked like Patton would end up the tough-luck loser up until the final moments. In the bottom of the seventh, Tyler Bermundo legged out an infield single with one out to put the tying run on base. He then avoided a tag on a ground ball to second that could have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, Bermundo was in scoring position with two outs when a fielding error at shortstop allowed him to bring home the tying run, forcing extra innings with a 2-2 score.
Murillo–who replaced Patton on the mound in the sixth–was able to strand a pair of Bruins in the top of the eighth inning to set up the walk-off opportunity. He was then able to reach base on a throwing error in the bottom of the eighth and advanced to second on a hit by pitch. Wilson went to the bullpen, and the very first offering from Jack Eckenrode skipped past Wilson catcher Joe McGrath to the backstop. McGrath was unable to locate the baseball as Murillo raced all the way home from second with the game-winning run.
“I think the biggest thing was just seeing something down,” said Murillo on the final play. “I saw the pitch down, saw the catcher look the other away and no one covering home. I saw Coach Keester just sending it so I put the wheels on and gave it my all.”
The win keeps Millikan’s slim Moore League title hopes alive, but they’ll need some help to force a four-way tie for the league championship. Long Beach Poly has a chance to win the title outright with a win over Lakewood on Friday afternoon, while Wilson will also need to hope for a four-way split once the dust settles on the last day of the regular season next Thursday.
Moore League Baseball Standings
- Long Beach Poly (7-1)
- Lakewood (5-2)
- Millikan (5-3)
- Wilson (5-3)
- Cabrillo (1-7)
- Jordan (0-7)