San Benito’s Brian Haggett had one thing on his mind when he
walked to the plate Thursday to lead off the seventh inning of a
tied ballgame against Bellarmine.
Hollister – San Benito’s Brian Haggett had one thing on his mind when he walked to the plate Thursday to lead off the seventh inning of a tied ballgame against Bellarmine.
“Just look for a fastball to drive.”
Haggett did exactly that, and on the second pitch he saw from Bells pitcher Nate Underwood, the Haybalers slugger rocketed a pitch over the right field fence to give San Benito a 12-11 win.
“I knew it was gone, I knew the game was over,” said Haggett, a junior second baseman.
The exciting conclusion seemed fitting for a game stocked with offense. However, it was some clutch pitching that set up Haggett’s heroics.
Three of Bellarmine’s first six hitters blasted home runs and the Bells scored at least one run in each of the first six innings.
But with the top of the order coming to the plate in the seventh, ‘Balers pitcher Ronnie Fhurong provided the only 1-2-3 inning of the game for either team.
“Fhurong did a real good job,” San Benito coach Michael Luna said. “That helped us big time. We knew now we had the momentum – we had the chance to win.”
The victory allowed the ‘Balers to finish third in the Knights of Columbus Classic, which was hosted by Serra with this game being played in Hollister at the request of the two teams. The Padres won the tournament title by pounding Los Altos 15-5.
San Benito (18-5) also snapped its first two-game losing streak of the season with the win.
“I wanted to see how well we’d bounce back from a tough loss,” Luna said, referring to Wednesday’s extra-inning defeat to Los Altos. “Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. I wanted to see if we could play a tough, competitive game against a good team.”
After a pair of home runs in the first gave the Bells a 2-0 lead, the ‘Balers tied it when Justin Andrade doubled home two in the bottom of the first.
Bellarmine scored once in the second and twice in the third, took a 6-3 lead entering the bottom of the fourth.
That’s when San Benito rallied to take its first lead. Kevin Gonzales was hit by a pitch with one out. Zach Canez followed with a single and Kolton Klauer walked to load the bases for Haggett. He walked to drive in a run and Kevin Medeiros followed with a two-run double to tie the game.
Andrade drove in his fourth run of the game with a groundout and Kyle Zozaya delivered a two-out RBI single to make it 8-6.
Bellarmine fought back again with three in the fifth to take the lead, but the ‘Balers tied it again with a run in the bottom of the inning.
Both teams scored twice in the sixth, with Gonzales driving in a run on a bases-loaded hit by pitch and Canez tying it with a long sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Fhurong, who entered the game in the sixth and allowed two runs on three hits, then had a 13-pitch inning in the seventh. He struck out No. 3 hitter Grant Bauer to end the inning, and the junior picked up his second win of the season.
“We know we can compete with the West Catholic (Athletic League) teams,” Haggett said. “We’re going to see them in (the Central Coast Section playoffs). We know we can hang with them.”
Haggett finished 1-for-3 with a pair of walks, three runs scored and two RBIs. Andrade was 2-for-4 with four RBIs, Medeiros was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs, Zozaya was 2-for-4 with a run and Canez was 2-for-5 with a run.
After a day off, the ‘Balers resume a busy stretch of eight games in nine days with a double header Saturday in the Valley Christian/San Jose Sharks Crown Classic. San Benito faces Santa Cruz at 9:30am and then will try for its fourth win this season against Wilcox.
The last time the ‘Balers faced Wilcox, they scored seven runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to win in the championship game of the Santa Clara Bruin Classic. Both games Saturday will be played at Wilcox.
Bellarmine 212 132 0 – 11 12 3
San Benito 201 512 1 – 12 13 3
Alves, Arce (4), Broussard (5), Couch (6), Underwood (7) and Felix. Garcia, Eichhorn (5), Fhurong (6) and Zozaya. WP – Fhurong (2-0), LP – Underwood.
RBI – Guthrie (B) 4, Canha (B) 2, Lee (B) 2, Bauer (B), Felix (B), Johnson (B), Andrade (SB) 4, Haggett (SB) 2, Medeiros (SB) 2, Canez (SB), Zozaya, Gonzales.
2B – Bauer (B) 2, Guthrie (B) 2, Felix (B), Medeiros (SB) 2, Burley (SB), Lamonna (SB). HR – Canha (B), Felix (B), Guthrie (SB), Haggett (SB).