If Wednesday’s Central Coast Section Open Division playoff opener was any indication, the San Benito High baseball team is primed for another run at the championship. Executing in every phase of the game, the host Haybalers rolled to a 12-0 win over San Lorenzo Valley in a game that was called after five innings due to the mercy rule.
The No. 3 seed Haybalers (20-8) advance to a quarterfinal contest against No. 6 Palma (22-5), which was a 4-0 winner over Leland.
“We hope this will continue because our goal is to get a (championship) ring,” said Drew Williams, who went 3 for 3 and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. “We have unbelievable team chemistry, and when we want to come out swinging, we will. If we have high energy, we’re going to bring it.”
The San Benito bats—which has been equal parts hot and cold throughout the season—set the tone early. Davonte Butler led off the bottom of the first inning with a double, advanced to third on Diego Fisher’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a Williams single. The Balers scored five runs in the second and five more in the third to make this a runaway.
In the second, Williams stroked a bases-clearing double to make it 4-0 before Josh Harris followed with a two-run home run. An inning later, Tyler Triano hit a two-run double to make it 8-0. Two batters later, Fisher had a run-scoring single before Williams followed with a towering two-run homer over the right-field fence.
Triano helped his own cause with two doubles and three RBIs, which turned out to be plenty enough. The senior right-hander wasn’t at his best but was still plenty good enough, scattering seven hits over four innings while throwing only 46 pitches. The latter number is huge, considering the Balers face league rival Palma on Saturday.
San Benito won two of the three teams’ Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division games, including a 3-1 win on May 9 that clinched the league championship. However, the Chieftains are a formidable foe, so having Triano available Saturday has to be a comforting thought for the team. That along with the game Williams had, perhaps his best in several weeks.
Williams, who said he’s had his ups and downs this season, was certainly shining bright against San Lorenzo Valley. With the advice of assistant coach Michael Luna, Williams made a couple of adjustments to his approach and stance recently, and it paid off in a big way.
“My first at-bat I was really trying to emphasize my back hip, and I feel like I got it through really well today,” Williams said. “I stroked three balls well, so I’m very happy about that. Coach Luna and I talked a lot about handling the fastball. I wasn’t trying to swing at anything off-speed today. If I get a curveball, I’m laying off unless there are two strikes. I’ll handle it then. … I just wanted to come in and have a good game for my team.”
Williams did just that, and his teammates followed suit. The Balers produced 14 hits in their four innings up to bat (they didn’t get to bat in the bottom of the fifth since they won and were the home team). Ryan Quinby had two singles and a walk, and Mason Marquez had two singles. Defensively, Harris made some nice plays in center field.
Aviles was impressed with how the players set the tone from the start and executed the game plan.
“We bunted when we had to, hit behind (runners) when we had to and hit with runners in scoring position,” he said. “We got a lot of hits with two outs, and that’s always nice. I don’t want to say we’re peaking, but hopefully we have a little something more left in us. We’re in a four-game season right now. We took care of the first, and hopefully we’ll take care of the next three.”