(Fresno, CA) In their first California Community College Athletic Association State Championship appearance in 52 years, the Mt. San Antonio College Mounties Baseball Team almost completed an epic comeback in the opening game Saturday night at Fresno City College.
Tied at 6-6 each in the ninth inning, No. 1 North seed San Joaquin Delta had a walk-off, bases-loaded single to win 7-6 and advance to the championship semifinal game.
Trailing 5-0 in the fifth inning, the No. 2 South seed Mounties (35-13) scored in three consecutive innings – fifth, sixth and seventh, to eventually tie the game at 6-6 each.
However, the walk-off hit sent the Mounties to an elimination game Sunday morning.
"(Mt. SAC) showed a ton of resilience coming back," said Mt. SAC coach John Knott of the comeback.
"A lot of guys had quality at bats and (Matt) Garcia (2.1 inn., 2 H, 0 R, 3 Ks) did a great job on the mound giving us some momentum (in relief).
"It's unfortunate, it didn't happen (Saturday) and credit to (Delta) they did a good job of staying with it and they made the plays when they had to."
Cotter started things off with a single to right field in the fifth inning for the Mounties, who were held hitless through the first four innings and came home two batters later on a single by Zaragoza, to trail 5-1.
After Delta scored a solo run in the bottom half of the inning to lead 6-1, Mt. SAC began its comeback with authority, scoring three runs in the sixth inning.
Third baseman Michael Sandoval (R, RBI, Sac Fly), who hit a three-run home run in the SoCal Sectional finals last week, reached first on an error to open the inning, followed by walk to right fielder Brandon Bradshaw (1 for 3, R, RBI).
Cotter collected his second hit, a two-run double just inside third base, sending in Sandoval and Bradshaw to cut the lead in half, 6-3.
Cotter came in on a sacrifice fly to left field by first baseman Ray Mata-Lemos to trail, 6-4.
Both runners came home after a scoring fly ball by Michael Sandoval and a double by Bradshaw.
Perhaps the play of the game, with the score tied 6-6 that nearly blew the game open was a long fly ball off the bat of second baseman Ryon Knowles with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
The Delta fielder made a great catch against the massive 15' foot high wall for the final out of the inning.
"Knowles really got a hold of that one and their outfielder made a nice catch there and it just didn't happen." Knott said.
San Joaquin Delta (41-8) would follow with the bases-loaded, walk-off run in the ninth for the victory.
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