Baseball Long Beach Poly Millikan

Baseball: Pack’s Big Day Leads Millikan Over Long Beach Poly

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The defending Moore League champions from Long Beach Poly hosted this year’s favorites from Millikan on Tuesday, and the result was a grind-it-out win for the visiting Rams.

Millikan held off the Jackrabbits for a 3-1 victory, reaching the midway point of the Moore League schedule with a 6-0 record. It was a needed test for the Rams, who’ve outscored their opponents by a combined score of 50-3 over those six games. Tuesday’s matchup came down to the final pitch of the evening, as Millikan was able to strand the potential tying run in scoring position to secure the win.

“I was very pleased with all three facets of our game today,” said Millikan head coach Ron Keester. “We got a bunch of guys on, and (Poly) did their job not letting them score, but we came through in the first and second innings to get those early runs. Scoring early really is an advantage in this league, and being able to maintain that lead, I think it wears on you when you’re down and you’re always chasing. So from that aspect, I think we were able to save some energy and some emotion that way.”

Superstar junior Anthony Pack had a huge performance, going 3/4 at the plate, finishing a home run shy of the cycle by collecting a single, double, and triple. Pack scored two of the Millikan runs (on RBI singles by Ben Keisler) and also stole a base.

“It was great,” said Pack of the team’s victory. “Poly’s always a great team, but we started with pitching, Nolan came out and threw a perfect game. And we happened to get a couple of runs behind him, get some momentum and our energy was up today.”

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Pack opened the scoring in the top of the first, after his two-out double to left center set up an early scoring chance. Keisler stepped up and lined an RBI to center, bringing Pack around to score with a head-first dive at the plate.

The Rams doubled their lead in the second as Enrique Lopez started a rally with a leadoff walk. After a groundout, Lopez stole third to get into prime scoring position with one out. That allowed Ari Farrel to put down a picture-perfect squeeze bunt toward first base to drive in Lopez and make it 2-0 Millikan.

The host Jackrabbits answered back immediately, as Jesse Ritz singled to start the bottom half of the inning, advancing to second base thanks to a bobble in the outfield. With runners at the corners and one out, Antonio Yepez delivered an RBI groundout on a well-timed hit & run, allowing Ritz to score easily and make it a one-run ballgame again.

The score stayed 2-1 until the final inning as both pitchers were able to settle in and strand runners on base.

Millikan senior Nolan Patterson worked 6.1 innings, allowing the one unearned run on five hits while striking out five to earn the win.

Poly started Jacob Mason, who pitched the first two innings before Joshue Sayre took over in the third frame. Sayre covered the final five innings, allowing a run on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts. Both pitchers endured consistent traffic as the Rams collected 10 hits and stranded nine runners on base, including at least one in every inning.

The hosts put two runners on base in each of the final two innings but were unable to score against Patterson and junior Owen Waytas, who came in to collect the final two outs and the save.

Pack added a crucial insurance run for Millikan in the top of the seventh, smacking a one-out triple to deep right field. That gave another RBI chance to Keisler, who did the job once again to make it 3-1 Rams. Pack showed he could hit the ball hard to the opposite field in his first two at bats, but then the lefty-swinging speedster pulled a hanging slider over the right fielder’s head, showing he’s got power to all fields.

“Just hitting the ball where it’s pitched,” Pack said. “I work on that in the cages, staying inside the ball and, you know, it turned out good for me today and the win feels good.”

First-year Poly head coach Martin Rodriguez is seeing progress from his team, which is gaining a lot of valuable experience as the season has gone on. The Jackrabbits have a pair of losses through the first round of league, but were right there with a chance to win both of those contests.

“We dropped a 1-0 game to Lakewood, and then we lose this one 3-1, and I think both of those games could have gone either way, Rodriguez said. “There’s a little bit more experience on the two teams that we played, and our experience is starting now to develop … We were slow to pick things up, but we’re gonna go on a run here. And I think by this time next week we’ll be about .500. and then we’ll start to right the ship a little bit.”

Adrian Bernal had a nice game for Poly out in right field, making a great sliding catch to save a run in the sixth. He also hit a one-out double in the bottom of the seventh to help spark Poly’s final rally.

Poly was also without senior third baseman and leadoff man Nate Berumen, who was ejected after using an expletive in frustration after a third-inning groundout. Rodriguez said he didn’t agree with the decision since it was not directed at anyone, and he would’ve liked to see a warning issued first.

Poly will take on Compton on Thursday before getting some time off over Spring Break. The Rams, meanwhile, are headed to Palm Desert for a tournament next week before getting back into Moore League action.

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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.