The Millikan Rams opened the CIF-SS Division 3 baseball playoffs along the coast, facing Mary Star of the Sea in first round action at picturesque Fromhold Field. The Moore League’s number three seed continued their fine play, earning a comfortable 6-1 win over the Stars to advance to the second round.
Millikan was once again buoyed by junior ace Myles Patton, who tossed a complete game for the Rams and only allowed four hits on the day–two of which never left the infield. He also racked up nine strikeouts without issuing a walk, and did well to throw strikes and suppress his pitch count, needing just 53 pitches to get through five innings.
Patton got some early run support as well, with the Rams scoring once in each of the first three innings. Millikan got on the board before an out was recorded thanks to a walk to Bilal Ali, a hit by pitch to Dean Ormonde, and a throwing error on Daniel Murillo’s bunt single.
“Myles was again, outstanding. Just like he was last week, just like he was two weeks ago, and how he’s been the whole year,” said Millikan head coach Ron Keester of his trusted southpaw. “He’s the real deal. And he definitely carried us today for a large portion of the game, but by scoring early we also were able to take some of the pressure off of him.”
The Rams scored in the second on a sacrifice fly by Ormonde to plate Tyler Bermundo, who opened the inning with an opposite field single. Another leadoff hit in the third led to another run as Murillo ripped a double to left and would later score on a throwing error to make it 3-0 Millikan in the third.
Meanwhile, Patton was just one batter over the minimum through four innings while piling up eight strikeouts in the first postseason appearance of his career.
“I’ve been preparing for this game mentally for a couple of days, and I think we really did a great job executing. Everybody was firing on all cylinders,” said Patton. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity ever since I got to Millikan. I know this is our first postseason win in a while, so I just wanted to stay focused and not get too excited. I was really just wanting to keep going out there, keep getting the ball, and keep throwing strikes. I know I can beat these hitters, and I just wanted to keep going and keep pushing through.”
Mary Star did break through for a run in the fifth inning after a leadoff double from Pierce D’Ambrosi, followed by a bunt single from Ty Lukin to put runners at the corners with no outs. Patton got what he needed on the next pitch, however, as a slow grounder to second base led to a 4-6-3 double play to clear the bases with just one run scoring.
The Rams put the game out of reach with a three-spot in the seventh. Murillo led off with another double scorched off the center field fence, giving him his second double and third hit of the day. Murillo came in to score his second run on a groundout, then Troy Harding pulled a two-RBI single to left field to make it 6-1 Rams.
“Daniel was dynamic today offensively,” said Keester. “That’s the guy we’ve been waiting for all season long to appear. We see it all the time in practice, and it just hasn’t translated to games until today, and that was pretty electric.”
Murillo was able to attack early in his at-bats, taking advantage of some hanging breaking balls and driving them to the fence. He joked that maybe a few more push-ups would’ve helped him clear the fence next time, and the senior also said he’s happy with how the Rams are playing at this crucial juncture of the season.
“We have really good momentum,” Murillo said. “We’re playing as a team, playing with each other, and putting team first instead of us and just going out there and doing our thing.”
This was Millikan’s first playoff win since the 2015 season, when the Rams went on the road to beat Cypress in the first round. That game featured a couple of eventual Long Beach State Dirtbags, with Millikan’s Jacob Hughey picking up the win against future Dirtbags teammate Jarren Duran.
The Rams will return to the South Bay for their second round game next Tuesday, facing Torrance High. The Tartars were champions of the Pioneer League, and received a first-round bye in the Division 3 bracket.