MOUNTAIN VIEW – St. Francis coach Matt Maguire didn’t know exactly what to expect Tuesday in the opening round of the brand-new California Interscholastic Federation NorCal baseball playoffs.
St. Francis was just days removed from an extra-inning victory over Palo Alto in the Central Coast Section Division I championship game.
School is over for summer break.
The graduation ceremony had already taken place, so should this year’s senior class still be considered “student”-athletes?
It’s all trivial, of course.
All that mattered is that No. 2 St. Francis took care of business 11-1 in a five-inning mercy-rule trouncing of No. 7 Cardinal Newman.
“Yes, it’s nice to get a comfortable lead, but we’re always worried as coaches,” St. Francis coach Matt Maguire said. “It’s been a weird adjustment playing after CCS, the kids not being in school, all that sort of stuff, but they came out today and got the job done.”
The Lancers improved to 30-4 overall, thereby becoming the first team in program history to reach the 30-win plateau.
“We knew coming into the season it was a special team, great group of guys, great coaching staff,” said St. Francis senior Tristan Kim, who got the start on the mound. “And I feel we’re being rewarded for our patience and willingness to practice.”
Cardinal Newman (24-6) recorded its lone run off a solo blast in the top of third from junior Vero Poueu.
Otherwise, Kim appeared in cruise control as he scattered five hits and a walk while punching out four in 75 pitches.
“I threw a lot of off-speed today,” said Kim, who feels it’s possible that he could be available out of the bullpen should the Lancers advance to Saturday’s final. “Pitching coach called a great game and it ended up working out.”
Run support wasn’t an issue after Saturday’s 1-0 squeaker against Palo Alto in the CCS final.
Every batter in the lineup delivered at least one hit, with two apiece for the top pair in the order – shortstop Elias Duncan and Cal Poly-bound Wyatt King, who went 2 for 4 with four RBIs.
“It’s a great change of pace from last game,” St. Francis third baseman Christian Galvez said of the 13-hit attack, which also saw catcher and cleanup hitter Ryan Lee go 2 for 3 with a walk.
Galvez, the No. 5 hitter, ripped a pair of doubles, including a walk-off shot to left field with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to cap a six-run rally.
“It wasn’t even a great barrel, but the wind was blowing out, it hit the wall and turned into a game-winning hit,” said Galvez, who was confused as to why his teammates suddenly rushed the field. “I didn’t even know it was mercy rule.”
In Thursday’s semifinal, St. Francis will host a familiar foe in No. 6 Valley Christian (25-7-1), which won 7-4 at No. 3 Whitney.
First pitch is scheduled for 6 pm