Haybalers clinch another league championship

As the final out was recorded, Ryan Jameson stepped off the mound and pumped his fist, signifying the dominant play of the San Benito High baseball team in the Monterey Bay League this season. With a 6-0 win over host Gilroy on Friday, the Haybalers (18-5 overall, 12-3 league) clinched at least a share of the Gabilan Division championship.

It’s believed to be San Benito’s 15th league title in the last 18 years, one of the great dynastic streaks in the entire Central Coast Section. Speaking of CCS, that’s exactly what Jameson—a Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo signee—was thinking about once the final out was recorded.

“This was a big deal, but we’re looking to get the next one which is the CCS championship,” said Jameson, who pitched a complete-game, four-hitter with six strikeouts. “I want that CCS championship.”

The Balers will be slotted in the eight-team Open Division bracket, and once again face the very best in the section. Two years ago, San Benito lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to St. Francis in the Open Division championship game, something that lingers with Jameson today while also serving as huge motivating factor.

“That was a tough loss,” he said. “That is what I take with me to the mound every game. I have the attitude to stay even keeled, to keep working, trust your defense and everything will work out.”

It certainly has this season. Friday’s win over a solid Gilroy team that entered the contest in second place in the division was synonymous with what San Benito has done all season—produce quality at-bats, pitch superbly, play solid defense and grind away. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, when the Balers scored all but one of their runs off five Gilroy errors.

Matt Campo drove in the team’s first run with a two-out, bases-loaded walk. San Benito scored two more times in the fifth and three runs in the sixth to win going away. Even though the Balers had the fortune of seeing the Mustangs botch plays defensively, they needed to get runners on base to take advantage.

Mason Marquez, who had a game-high two hits, walked to lead off the top of the fifth. Brady Miguel followed with a walk. Marquez later scored on a throwing error, and Miguel scored moments later on a fielding miscue. Miguel also had a fielder’s choice RBI in the sixth after San Benito loaded the bases with one out.

“It’s been a good year,” Balers coach Billy Aviles said. “The kids have worked very hard and battled all year. This is a team that pulls for each other in all situations. They’re hungry and I can call anyone’s number and know they’ll be ready to go. We knew it was going to be a battle today with Benavdies—a San Diego State commit—on the mound. But we executed, got the runs across and finished it.”

Miguel did what he normally does to an opponent: wreak havoc on the basepaths. He forced an errant pickoff throw and advanced all the way to third base from first in the sixth inning. Jameson delivered another typical strong outing, utilizing a wicked slider with devastating results.

Mixing speeds beautifully, Jameson often had the Gilroy hitters off-balance as he used his fastball and slider interchangeably.

“Jameson throws strikes, competes in the zone and gives us a chance to win every time,” Aviles said.

Jameson said this year’s team has the best chemistry in the three years he’s been a key cog in the pitching corps on the varsity squad.

“We all get along great,” he said. “We’re not two teams; we’re one. It all works out in the end.”

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