Millikan’s formula for road playoff success has been to score in the first inning and then play error-free baseball. That proved to be a winning formula once again in the CIF-SS Division 2 quarterfinals, but unfortunately for Rams fans, it worked for the wrong team.
The Rams went into a tough road environment at Palos Verdes and came up short in a 4-2 loss on Friday afternoon, knocking the reigning CIF-SS Division 3 and Moore League champions out of the postseason.
“We didn’t get the breaks, we didn’t make the breaks happen, and (Palos Verdes) played probably a little bit better than we did,” said Millikan head coach Ron Keester. “But I wasn’t disappointed with our effort today. This takes away nothing from what they were able to do this season with the league title, the walk-offs and a couple of wins in the playoffs.”
The Rams fell behind in the first inning as PV was able to cash in a leadoff walk. After a sac bunt, Ryan Roche smacked an RBI single to put the Sea Kings on the board early.
The lead would double in the second inning with a few crucial calls going against the Rams. After a single started the frame, a sac bunt didn’t lead to an out as first baseman Myles Patton was ruled off the base when he caught a high throw to first. That drew Keester out for an argument, but to no avail.
Later in the inning with runners at the corners and one out, a groundout to third brought the runner, Garren Rizzo, to the plate for PV. After recording the out at first, Patton threw to the plate, where Rizzo was ruled safe on another bang/bang play to make it 2-0 Sea Kings. Again Keester voiced his displeasure with the home plate umpire, but the call stood.
Millikan pulled a run back in the fourth thanks to a one-out double from Robert Voss. He would later score on a two-out base hit by Christian Cuffaro to cut the deficit in half.
Palos Verdes would respond in the bottom half of the inning, however, benefitting from an error to start the inning. Kendall Ward delivered an RBI double to restore the lead back to two runs.
The Sea Kings went up by three in the bottom half of the fifth, as another throwing error on a potential inning-ending double play allowed Rizzo to score his second run of the afternoon. That gave PV a 4-1 cushion.
Defensively, the errors and the stuff that cost us was early in innings and zero-out errors,” Keester said. “All of a sudden, they get that fourth out and they were able to execute and they finally got those couple of runs.”
Voss led off the sixth with an infield single to short, then moved to scoring position on a balk. Patton’s second base hit of the day scored him to cut the lead to just 4-2. The Rams wouldn’t score again, however, as PV held on for the 4-2 victory.
Voss had a solid day at the plate, going 2/3 with a double and two runs scored. His only out was a line drive to center field. Sam DeCarlo was on base three times with a pair of singles, a walk and a stolen base. Patton also had a couple of hits and an RBI while only able to play first base in this game due to pitch limitations.
“Myles and Sam were guys that were instrumental last year and were leading forces this year,” Keester said of two of his seniors. “They really showed our younger guys how to play. Myles and Sam and the guys this year are creating a culture of the way we want to play and how wwe want things done. That's really what's led us, those two guys, and it's taken us to where we want to be and hopefully our next guys can continue that.”