By BRIAN REED-BAIOTTO, Sports Editor If you showed up to Arcadia County Park Tuesday afternoon hoping La Salle would earn a trip to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 finals, you went home both exhilarated and stunned. The Lancers trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth when Johnathan Wong was hit by pitch and Donovan […]
By BRIAN REED-BAIOTTO, Sports Editor
If you showed up to Arcadia County Park Tuesday afternoon hoping La Salle would earn a trip to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 finals, you went home both exhilarated and stunned.
The Lancers trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth when Johnathan Wong was hit by pitch and Donovan Bailey pinch-hit for Peter Thorsen and drew a walk with one out.
Wilson starter Nick Endres then got Henry Kavanaugh, who hits out of the leadoff spot on strikes for the second out, and that set up the game’s defining moment.
Up to the plate came Ethan Patrick, the Lancers leading hitter for the last three seasons, and the guy they want at the plate in any big moment.
Patrick was seven outs away from his magnificent career at the prep level being over, and you could sense a little tension and anxiety on his face, but his play said otherwise.
On a two-strike pitch, Patrick singled sharply into right field, and because it was hit so hard, the runners from first and second base were only going to advance 90 feet.
But unfortunately for Wilson, the ball skimmed under the glove of their right fielder and rolled some 30-plus feet to the fence.
Johnathan Wong, who was originally being held at third, was waved home when first-year coach Eddie McKiernan saw the ball rolling away from the Bruins’ outfielder, then followed Blake Hardy, who pinch ran for Donovan Bailey.
And worst case scenario now looked like La Salle had at least tied the game at 2-2.
But as players were celebrating beyond home plate after Wong and Hardy had scored, here came Patrick, who never broke stride for 360 feet, and slid head first for what turned out to be the game winning run.
To make it even more dramatic, it was a bang-bang play at the plate.
The eruption among the players and fans was palpable.
Some players didn’t even realize Patrick was lumbering towards home and the umpire was visibly upset that so many La Salle players were out of the dugout.
But this was a do-or-die game with a play that would beat astronomical odds to happen again, so the umpire rightfully understood the situation and just after pushing a pair of Lancers away from the plate, he leaned forward and gave the ‘safe’ sign to Patrick as the dirt rose into the air from EP’s slide.
So, now that La Salle is up 3-2 we can go back a few innings.
Landon Smith started on the mound for La Salle and while he didn’t have his best stuff, the Lancers’ senior gave his team a chance to win.
Smith went 3 2/3 innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits. He walked three and struck out three Bruins’ batters.
Smith left trailing 2-0, and was replaced by crafty senior Jeff Daley, who is the polar opposite to Smith and relies on his craftiness to get batters out.
Daley came in with runners on in the fourth inning and got the final out of that frame without any further damage.
The brainy senior didn’t allow a hit or run over the next 3 1/3 innings and saved La Salle’s season.
Daley walked one and struck out a pair to earn his fifth victory of the season and earn La Salle its first title-game opportunity in nearly 15 years.
The victory isn’t just sweet in earning that spot in the sport’s biggest game, they also get a chance to face off with top-seeded Maranatha this Saturday morning in Riverside with the championship on the line between two Pasadena schools.
The time of the game will be determined Wednesday morning in a meeting at CIF.
It is believed to be the first time that La Salle and Maranatha will meet up and battle it out for a CIF title in any sport.
Endres got the loss after allowing three runs (only one was earned) on three hits.
Endres walked three and struck out one, but deserved a better fate.
Aiden Alaniz replaced Endres in the fifth and went the final 1 1/3 innings on one hit, walking one and he struck out one La Salle batter.
Crixtian Taveras finished 2 for 3 for Wilson and drove in both runs for the Bruins.
Ethan Patrick is playing like an MVP, and is as clutch as we describe him game in and game out.
EP went 2 for 3, with the second of those two setting up the two runs that scored, and eventually his diving head first with the go-ahead run.
On this playoff run, and in victories over Charter Oak, Temecula Valley, Temescal Canyon and now Wilson, respectively, Patrick has 10 postseason base hits.
Mark Daley and Victor Scalzo both singled to account for the other two La Salle hits on Tuesday.
For postgame interviews with Jeff and Mark Daley, Ethan Patrick, Landon Smith, Brennen Mace and coach Eddie McKiernan, please click on our video above.
LB Wilson: 1-0-1-0-0-0-0-(2)
La Salle: 0-0-0-0-3-0-X-(3)
Win: Jeff Daley (5-2)
Loss: Nick Endres
2B: Ryan Guerrero (W), Crixtian Taveras (W)
Records: Wilson (22-12-1); La Salle (18-10)