A year ago, the San Benito High baseball team watched Palma celebrate on its home field after clinching the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division championship. On Tuesday, the Haybalers got payback, defeating the host Chieftains 3-1 to win an outright league title—their third sole championship in the last four years.
“We were going out for blood no matter what,” said Balers ace Tyler Triano, who pitched a complete-game, five-hitter. “We weren’t going to stop. We were going to keep pounding. We wanted it bad, way more than them. We came out here to beat some you know (what). We came out here with an intensity to beat them and not let up.”
Triano certainly didn’t let up, as he and Palma ace Sam Stoutenborough finished with superb performances. However, it was Triano who was able to prevail after making some of his best pitches when the heat was on. With the Balers (18-7 overall, 15-2 MBL Gabilan) ahead 2-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, Palma responded by loading the bases with no outs.
Zack Davis’ single cut the deficit to 2-1, and it looked as if all the momentum was shifting to the home side. But Triano recorded two straight strikeouts before inducing a fly out to quell the threat, and the Chieftains (20-5, 13-4) couldn’t put together another serious scoring threat the rest of the way. When Palma was threatening to take the lead, Triano was at his best.
“I try to keep the same pace whatever the situation is,” Triano said. “I always hear the coaches out there telling me to stay up and keep fighting, and I do that.”
The teams were scoreless until San Benito scored twice in the fifth. Drew Williams singled with one out and came home on a Josh Harris double. Two batters later, Alex Soto flared a single to right field, bringing home Harris. The Balers scored an insurance run in the seventh off of Soto’s fielder’s choice, scoring Williams, who led off the inning with a walk before advancing to third on a Mason Marquez single.
It was an emotional scene afterward, with players and coaches hugging each other before the former group celebrated with jubilant chants.
“I’m proud of the team,” Balers coach Billy Aviles said. “It’s been a tough year. It’s a pretty special win just for the fact it’s been a long season. Palma is a quality team, and we faced a great pitcher and just battled. We got great pitching, defense and timely hitting. That’s a winning combination. It starts with Tyler on the bump; he was outstanding again. He got ahead early, got ahead often and pretty much did that the whole game.”
Williams, Harris and Marquez—the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 batters in the lineup—accounted for six of the team’s nine hits. Fisher made a nice play in left field and Soto also produced a stellar defensive play at third base late in the game. This was truly a team victory for San Benito, which has relied on the arm of Triano and contributions from throughout the lineup to post another strong season.
“Every title is special,” Aviles said. “This is a big accomplishment for these kids. We’ve built a tradition here and these kids understand the tradition and want to carry it on. It was great to finish this, and now we want to get some momentum going into CCS. We understand what’s at stake and want to get better.”
San Benito closes out the regular-season with a home game against Christopher on Thursday. The CCS playoff seeding meeting is on Saturday. The Balers will be slotted in the Open Division with the best teams in the section.