A historic season came to an end for Millikan Baseball on Saturday, as the Rams were on the wrong end of a 1-0 walk-off win in the CIF Division II Southern California Regional Championship Game. Millikan and La Costa Canyon were stuck in a scoreless tie until the bottom of the ninth inning, when the Mavericks walked it off on an RBI double from senior Mark Prince.
The loss snaps a 10-game winning streak for Millikan, and the Rams close out a memorable season with a 25-5 record and a CIF-SS Division 3 championship. As the No. 7 seed in the Division II regional bracket, the Rams were not expected to make the finals, but fill-in head coach Keven Gail said the team was still disappointed to go out on a loss.
“They’re a little bummed, but now they can actually sit and reflect on the season, and realize they’re CIF champions and regional finalists in Division II,” said Gail. “It was an incredible year, I’m so proud of these kids.”
Junior Myles Patton started on the mound for Millikan and was effective in keeping the host Mavericks off the board. The recent Long Beach State commit went eight-plus innings for a complete game, allowing just three hits while piling up eight strikeouts. He also added a single at the plate.
He got a big lift from his defense in the bottom of the third inning, with a base runner on third base with just one out. Senior Gabe Ceja had a ball hit towards him in right that pulled him into foul territory. Rather than make the catch and allow the runner to score on a sacrifice fly, Ceja let the ball fall in foul territory. Later in the at-bat, his instincts proved prescient, as Ceja got another fly ball his way, but this time he was able to get into a good position to thrown home, delivering a strike to Troy Harding at the plate for the inning-ending double play.
The Rams had a few great chances to score but were unable to cash them in. Some bad luck went against Millikan in the top of the fifth to keep the game scoreless. Senior Dean Ormonde drew a two-out walk, and was rounding third with the game’s first run when Daniel Murillo pulled a double down the left field line. Unfortunately for Millikan, the ball rolled underneath the outfield fence and out of play, immediately triggering a ground-rule double and sending Ormonde back to third base, where he would ultimately be stranded to keep the game 0-0.
Millikan nearly took the lead in the top of the ninth inning, as Anthony Godfrey led off with a double. Tyler Bermundo’s sac bunt was so good, it turned into his second base hit of the day to put two on with no outs. Bermundo would then snag second with the infield playing in, but a strikeout and a popout from the next two batters would keep the runners put. After an intentional walk to Bilal Ali loaded the bases, Ormonde lined out to second base to strand the bases loaded.
A leadoff error in the bottom of the ninth set up the game-winning rally for La Costa Canyon. After the runner reached second, an intentional walk put two men on for Prince who pulled a walk-off double to left and give the Mavericks the 1-0 win.
The unearned run made Patton the tough-luck loser, but the junior had a terrific postseason performance on the hill. The junior lefty worked 28+ innings in the playoffs, allowing just three runs (two earned) while striking out 39 batters.