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St. John Bosco baseball rallies for walk-off mock victory over Bakersfield Christian in CIF regional championship game – Press Telegram
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St. John Bosco baseball rallies for walk-off mock victory over Bakersfield Christian in CIF regional championship game – Press Telegram

St. John Bosco head coach Andy Rojo raises the championship plaque as his players celebrate after a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Bakersfield Christian in the CIF State Southern California Regional, Division III title game on Saturday, June 1, 2024 in Bellflower . (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

BELLFLOWER – The St. John Bosco baseball team trailed 4-0 in the fifth inning, but the Braves never lost confidence en route to winning the program’s first CIF regional title in school history.

Instead, Bosco rallied, scoring five straight runs over the final three innings. Braves junior third baseman Owen Stelzer, who reached on a timely two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning, later found himself at third base and scored the winning run on a walk-off balk, making it a thrilling 5-4 secured. comeback win against Bakersfield Christian in the CIF Southern California Regional Division III championship game Saturday.

“At first it was confusing with appearances. I didn’t know something like this would happen, but it felt great to be the winning series,” said Stelzer.

“The core of this program from day one is that these guys absolutely believe in each other,” said Andy Rojo, St. John Bosco’s first-year head baseball coach. “We’ve come back from a number of deficits throughout the year, but they were able to do it in the biggest game of the year. It’s in their DNA. This is what these guys are made of.”

Bosco (23-11) was led by senior center fielder Julian Villasenor (Washington State signee), who went 2-3 with the Braves’ first two hits, including an RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning , eliminating Bakersfield. Christian led to 4-1.

Brave sophomore shortstop Noah Perez kept the game at 4-1 when he couldn’t catch a line drive, but recovered the ball and threw out Eagles first baseman Logan Templeton at the plate on a quickly delivered tag by junior catcher Micah Taguiam.

Bosco sophomore pinch hitter Moises Razo hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth. Bosco junior right fielder Macade Maxwell walked to put runners on first and second base with no outs. Perez, the potential tying run, grounded into a fielder’s choice, in which Razo was tagged out at third, but Perez avoided a double play by beating the throw to first base. Bosco junior pinch hitter Aiden Olguin delivered a one-out RBI single to score Maxwell from second. The Braves trailed 4-2.

Bakersfield Christian (28-6), which entered the championship game on a 19-game winning streak, was led by sophomore pitcher McCoy Silicz who threw 5 ⅓ innings and went 2-4 at home while highlighting his team’s cleanup hitter by a three-RBI double that gave his team a 4-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning, was followed by sophomore pitcher Cale Nielson.

Braves senior first baseman Zach Woodson (Pepperdine signee) jumped on the relief pitcher and delivered a two-RBI single, scoring Perez and Olguin. The game ended at 4 in the bottom of the sixth inning.

St. John Bosco senior pitcher Anthony Cosme, who gave up three runs in the fifth inning, was replaced with one out by sophomore pitcher Jack Champlin in the top of the seventh inning.

Cosme, who went a complete game in Tuesday’s first-round win, allowed four hits, three runs and struck out three in three innings against the Eagles.

“My motto all year has been keep my team in it because I know I can’t win the game alone,” said Cosme, who signed with Cal Poly Ponoma.

“Anthony is a special player, he’s a special kid and he just dug deep and minimized it when we needed him to minimize and that was really the difference,” Rojo added.

Champlin, who was credited with the win, gave up a two-out double to Silicz, but got senior left fielder Danny Aguirre to fly out to end the top of the seventh.

Stelzer hit a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh.

“It meant a lot just to get that hit,” Stelzer said.

Maxwell crushed a single to right field, moving Stelzer to third with two outs.

Nielsen got a balk, allowing Stelzer to automatically score from third and Bosco to win the match.

“The way the game ended does not define our season, our program,” Bakersfield Christian coach Mark Ratekin said. “They worked hard all year to get here, just cherish the moments they had and remember the bitter taste in their mouths they lost as a result. But we are going this fall with the goal of returning to this competition.”

Bosco junior starting pitcher Trevor Heishman, who had not pitched since the first round of the CIF Southern Section D3 playoffs on May 3, threw 3 ⅓ innings and allowed four hits, one run, one walk and struck out four the Eagles.

The Braves defeated Granada Hills Charter (3-2) and Birmingham (5-0) in the first round and regional semifinals, respectively, to reach the CIF SoCal Regional championship game.

“We are setting the standard for what is to come for the future of this program, so it will be great to see what happens next year,” Stelzer continued.