Dean Ormonde had never hit a homerun. Hold that.
“Well, I mean I did in 12U when the fences were like 200 feet,” he said.
Depending on how you look at it, Ormonde picked a great time for his first–or second–career homer, as his first-inning blast gave Millikan a huge boost in a road CIF-SS Division 3 quarterfinal against Saugus. That big shot opened floodgates that stayed open for the entire game, as Millikan scored in all but one inning and rode a terrific start from pitcher Cameron Sims to a dominant 9-0 victory.
The win puts the Rams in the semifinals for the first time since 2001. They’ll host top-seeded Hart on Tuesday afternoon at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field, likely with an early start time due to Millikan’s scheduled graduation that evening.
“Our kids are buying in right now, it seems like what we’re doing is really working,” said Millikan coach Ron Keester.
Everything was working on Friday, as the Rams were able to take advantage of several miscues from the host Centurions and continue their aggressive offensive run through the playoffs. With three wins under their belts this postseason, the Rams have failed to reach base in only one inning.
The scoring started with Ormonde’s homer, which he said he didn’t think was leaving the park.
“I was right at first base when I heard the dugout yell and I figured it went out,” he said.
In the second inning, Sam DeCarlo drew a walk and then a hard-hit ball to third base from Troy Harding scored him. Bilal Ali did it all himself in the third inning as he hit a single, took second on a wild pitch, stole third, then came home on another wild pitch to make it 3-0.
But the Rams broke it open in the top of the fourth, putting up four runs as they took advantage of four walks.
DeCarlo drew another walk, then scored from first thanks to a missed throw to the first baseman on a bunt from Tyler Bermundo. Recognizing that an infield shift left a weakness defensively, Harding bunted and reached base with no throw to first, scoring Bermundo.
Daniel Murillo scored Anthony Godfrey on an RBI double, and then Gabe Ceja drew a bases-loaded walk to score Ormonde, who also reached on a walk.
The Rams added an eighth run on Ormonde’s third score of the game in the top of the sixth thanks to a sac RBI from Myles Patton, then saw DeCarlo score in the top of the seventh on an RBI single from Ali.
“We have a lot of guys contributing right now, they’re having fun,” said Keester.
The Millikan defense did everything right, too. Sims turned in a great first playoff performance, giving up four hits in 4.2 scoreless innings, striking out four. Murillo came in to relive him in the fifth and went 2.1 innings striking out five and yielding just one hit.
The pitching was complimented by excellent work behind the dish from Harding, who didn’t let a ball past him, as well as strong fielding. The Rams now have a 16-inning scoreless streak in the playoffs dating back to the fifth inning of their first-round game. Millikan has given up just one run in three playoff games this season.
The effort from Sims was particularly impressive given that Thursday night he wasn’t sure if he was going to be pitch.
“I had a bad migraine, and I was nervous about whether I could play especially with the heat,” said Sims. “But I felt good today and right when I woke up this morning I just felt it. I was like, ‘I’m on today.’”
Millikan (22-4) will try to keep their playoff run going Tuesday against Hart. Final details on time/date are still being finalized between the schools.