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Baseball Long Beach Poly Millikan

Baseball: Long Beach Poly Walks Off Millikan in Thriller

The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.

“It’s the biggest run I’ve ever scored, and I’d be shocked if I ever score a bigger one.”

Those were the words of Long Beach Poly senior Aidan Currie, just moments after scoring the winning run on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field. The Jackrabbits had just earned their biggest win of the season in walk-off fashion, stunning defending Moore League champion Millikan, 4-3.

Poly fell behind 3-0 in the fifth inning, and trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, but rallied for three runs in the final inning. The winning RBI came from junior Nate Berumen, who delivered a two-out single to score Currie who was pinch-running at second base.

“These guys have been dialed in from the get go, and once they show up to the field, they’re ready to play,” said Poly’s interim head coach Curtis Thompson. “This team, they’re like a family. They love each other, they work hard, but I’m just lost for words right now … I just tell the guys to play hard until the last out, and we had two outs left, and we took advantage of that.”

Neither team hit the scoreboard until the fifth inning, as Poly starter Lucas Scott and Millikan starter Austin Paul kept hitters off balance and got help from their defenses through four scoreless frames.

Millikan broke through in the top of the fifth as Wyatt Ormonde and Connor Patton each hit one-out singles. Next up was pinch-hitter Jacob Robinson, who delivered an RBI single to right center. Millikan would add two more runs in the inning on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Demetri Syrengelas, giving them a 3-0 lead.

Poly responded immediately thanks to a leadoff double by Sebastian Byrd in the bottom half of the inning. He moved to third base on an errant throw to the infield, then brought home the first Poly run on an infield single by Fernando Castaneda.

Paul limited the damage from there, however, retiring the next six batters he faced–three via strikeout. The senior’s final line was impressive (6 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 8 K) especially considering that he’d started Millikan’s win on Monday, pitching four scoreless against Wilson.

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In the bottom of the seventh with their backs against the wall, Poly got a one-out rally going when Byrd lined a single to left. The senior had good at-bats each time up, going 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored on Thursday.

“Mainly it was just a bunch of good preparation with Coach Hinshaw,” said Byrd on his productive day at the plate. “We were in the cage for about an hour yesterday, just working on my load and staying even throughout my swing, and then just knowing I had to trust my hands, nobody could beat me. Just take BP out there, slow the game down, and that’s what I did.”

Byrd’s base hit was followed up by two more singles from Castaneda and Marcus O’Keith, who each sent grounders through the left side of the infield.

That brought up pinch-hitter Isaac Holder, who hit a firm chopper over to first base. It deflected off the fielder’s glove and into foul territory, giving Byrd and pinch-runner Miles Hiskey plenty of time to score and tie the game, 3-3. That sent the Jackrabbit dugout into a frenzy, still with two runners on base with a chance to win it.

Poly then ran into the second out of the inning as an attempted suicide squeeze play did not go to plan. A pitch in the dirt avoided the bunt attempt of Nate Berumen, and Patton showed quick reflexes behind the plate to tag O’Keith just in front of home plate.

Now with two outs, it would require a base hit to score the winning run. And despite being 0-for-3 at that point in the game, Berumen stepped up in the big moment when his team needed him most.

“That’s the mindset, you know, keep that confidence,” said Berumen after the game. “I just kept thinking ‘I gotta do a job right here’ and I’m trying to pull through for my team and stay in. I’m locked into that, and I’m not missing on two strikes, baby!”

Berumen didn’t miss, and his grounder up the middle set the stage for Currie to score from second base. The Jackrabbits knew that Rams center fielder Anthony Pack has a strong throwing arm, but it would have been out of character for this group of Jackrabbits to not go for glory in that moment.

“We respect the hell out of Millikan’s arms, especially Pack, he’s got a gun,” said Currie. “But when I rounded third, all I saw was Coach Curtis waving me home, so I said there’s no going back.”

Currie said he saw Patton move to his right in order to receive the throw from Pack, and that gave him just enough room to sneak his left hand under the tag and onto home plate. That led to a dogpile on the infield as the Jackrabbits celebrated another walk-off win at Blair. 

Poly also won in walk-off fashion against Katella High back on March 3 on the very same field, something that Thompson was eager to remind his team about.

“I told the kids, ‘Hey, we were down before at Blair, and we walked off that team here. So we’re gonna walk off Millikan today. And that’s what we did.”

But this win means a whole lot more, keeping Poly unbeaten in Moore League play at the top of the standings. The Jackrabbits now have at least a two-game lead on every other team in the league, putting them on the cusp of their third league title in the past four seasons. 

Regardless of how the rest of the season plays out, Thursday’s win was the latest entry into the Moore League Baseball history books: a well-played game with an exciting and unpredictable finish. One that nobody wearing green and gold will soon forget.

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs. Millikan, Baseball
PHOTOS: Long Beach Poly vs. Millikan, Baseball
Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.