After the girls of the North County went a perfect 3-0 on Tuesday afternoon in the opening round of the CIF Central Section softball playoffs, it was the boys turn on Wednesday to make a little postseason noise. The North County went ahead and flipped the entire Central Section upside down as Templeton took down the No. 1 seed in Division 3 in Selma and the Hounds took out the No. 5 team in Reedley.
Both the Eagles and the Hounds were led by fantastic pitching performances from their senior leaders. Templeton’s Justice Gibbons pitched six scoreless innings, striking out seven, walking four and only giving up five hits while Atascadero’s Cade Van Allen gave up one earned run over six innings on only four hits.
In the Atascadero game, all eight runs scored by both teams came in the first two innings. Both the Hounds and the Pirates each tallied three runs in the first inning but Atascadero added two more in the second and cruised to a 5-3 victory. The boys in orange did most of their damage with timely hitting as all three of their first-inning runs came with two outs. Justin Vose, Evyn Lade and Van Allen got the inning started off with a pair of singles and a defensive error and a Gavin Martinez walk brought in the first run. Next in the box was Taylor Hedger who hit a two-RBI single into centerfield. Atascadero loaded the bases again in the top of the second inning where a Vose sacrifice fly and a Lade single scored the next two runs.
The Eagles scored their first two runs in the top of the second inning thanks to an RBI triple by Merek Hall followed by a sacrifice fly from Eli Bullard. Two runs was enough as Gibbons was lights out on the mound, keeping the home crowd from ever becoming a factor. After giving up a triple and a walk in the first inning, Gibbons struck out six of the next nine batters he faced, not allowing a single man to reach base. Templeton added a run in the sixth on a Julian Kerschenstein RBI single and one more via an error in the seventh to win 4-1
Atascadero and Templeton are on the same side of the bracket and could potentially meet in the next round if both teams can take care of business on Friday, May 10. Had Mission Prep, seeded No. 4, been able to win their opening-round home game then the Hounds would have been on the road in SLO for the quarterfinals on Friday but with the Royals getting upset, the Hounds will have the rare playoff home game as a No. 12 seed.
Friday afternoon, the (10-17) Hounds will host the No. 13 seed in North Bakersfield. The Stars are 16-13 on the season but only 5-4 on the road. With Van Allen on the mound on Tuesday, that means that the lefty Vose will likely get the start on Friday.
The Eagles (6-16) will face a familiar opponent in the St. Joseph Knights who are 12-16 on the season and finished in sixth in the Mountain League just ahead of the Eagles. The two teams have played each other three times already this season with the Knights taking two of them. If both Atascadero and Templeton win on Friday, the Hounds will host the Eagles on May 15 for a chance to play for a CIF title on the line.