In pursuit of its first Central Coast Section championship in program history, the San Benito High baseball team couldn’t have produced a better start to its title quest. Keon Texeira’s walkoff single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning capped a thrilling come-from-behind 4-3 win over Bellarmine in a Division II playoff quarterfinal on Saturday.
The No. 2 seed Haybalers (16-9) play host to No. 3 Mountain View (15-5) on Wednesday at 4pm in the semifinals. In defeating Bellarmine, the Balers avenged a 3-0 defeat to the Bells earlier in the season. Bellarmine jumped on San Benito for three runs in the top of the second inning. The Balers answered with two runs in the third, and the game stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh.
Matt Pena led off the inning with a home run to make it 3-3. Ricky Madrigal reached on a single before Primo Reyes came on as a pinch runner. Reyes advanced to second base on a wild pitch and D.J. Lopes singled to put Reyes at third. The Bells made a terrific play on Austin Salamida’s fielder’s choice, throwing Reyes out at home plate.
With two outs and runners at first and second, Texeira, after fouling off five pitches, smoked a liner down the right-field line on a full count to deliver the victory. It was the second hit for Texeira, who has come on strong late in the season.
“He’s been starting for us down the stretch and doing a good job getting key hits,” Balers coach Billy Aviles said.
Texeira reached base four times, on two hits and two walks. Pena also had two hits and Ryan Io delivered 5 ⅓ innings of shutout ball including seven strikeouts. He came on in relief of Jackson Pace and dominated the Bellarmine lineup.
“He was the story because he kept us in the game,” Aviles said. “He straight was dealing and threw every pitch for a strike on every count.”
Io was seeing his first extended action on the mound since coming back from an injury. He previously had an appearance against Pioneer which prepared him for a longer outing against Bellarmine. Aviles feels optimistic about the team’s chances and said the three rest days in between games will give his pitchers time to recover.
“It’s a new week and everyone is on call,” he said. “We’re fully loaded and in a good spot. We’ll have all our arms available.”