Less than a week removed from their memorable CIF-SS championship victory, the Millikan Rams kept their postseason magic going with a thrilling 8-7 win over Camarillo in the semifinal round of the CIF Southern California Division II Baseball Championships. The win means that the Rams will play again on Saturday with the chance to claim a Southern California regional title to conclude their historic season.
Down to their final out while trailing 7-6 in the top of the seventh, the Rams got a clutch game-tying single from senior Bilal Ali, sending one back up the middle to score Tyler Bermundo. Pinch-runner Ethan Lam would then score on a passed ball to give the Rams an 8-7 lead in the final frame.
The heroics were far from finished, however, as the Scorpions put two runners on in the bottom of the inning. Camarillo appeared poised for a walk-off win, but a diving catch from junior second baseman Gannon De La Cruz ranging into the outfield ended the game and secured the win for Millikan.
“That was one of the craziest games I’ve ever been involved with. It’s still a blur,” said Millikan’s pitching coach and fill-in head coach Keven Gail after the win. “I’m so proud of these guys. They don’t quit. They’re determined to not let this season end.”
The Rams opened up a big early lead thanks to four runs in the top of the second inning. That advantage would grow thanks to a run in the fourth, then a solo home run from senior Daniel Murillo in the top of the fifth to make it a 6-0 Millikan lead.
Camarillo was able to quickly storm back and tie the game, however, scoring six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Millikan pitching had been almost untouchable during the section playoffs–allowing just two runs combined over five games–but the host Scorpions were able to find some holes against starter Cameron Sims, who was terrific through four shutout innings before some tough luck in the fifth.
Murillo came on in relief and was able to keep the game tied, but Camarillo scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth to put Millikan against the ropes.
This was Millikan’s first game of the SoCal Regional bracket after receiving a first round bye to get past San Pedro. The Rams were also shorthanded for Thursday’s game, with just 15 players making the trip and a few regular starters not playing. Despite those challenges and a raucous home crowd, the Rams persevered for their fourth road win this postseason.
“It was a hostile environment there to say the least, but we just didn’t lose our composure,” said Gail. “Even when we lost the lead, you could see as they were coming off the field they knew we were good.”
Ali had three hits at the top of the lineup with a pair of RBIs, and senior catcher Troy Harding also had himself a three-hit day, going 3/4 with a run scored and a run batted in. Tyler Bermundo added two hits for the Rams, scoring the tying run in the seventh and driving in a pair. Senior Dean Ormonde was 2/3 at the plate with an RBI.
Millikan (25-4) is now on a 10-game winning streak since their heartbreaking home loss against Poly on May 14, and will look to make it 11 wins in a row to end the season in the SoCal Regional Championship. The Rams will have another long bus ride waiting for them, as they’ll head down to the San Diego Section to face fourth-seeded La Costa Canyon (21-13). The Mavericks knocked off the top seed Trabuco Hills, 4-2, in their semifinal matchup.
First pitch at La Costa Canyon is Saturday at 4 p.m.