TEMPLETON — The Templeton Eagles and Lompoc Braves played a crucial game on Tuesday afternoon with the winner taking sole possession of the Los Padres League to control their own destiny for the rest of the year.
The Eagles entered Wednesday’s game with an overall record of 15-6 while the Braves had a record of 12-5. Both teams were tied in the Los Padres League with a 12-3 record, but after winning Wednesday, the Eagles have now won both games against Lompoc this season and have won the series.
Templeton started Cole Garcia on the mound and he worked very quickly with the first three innings going by without any real threats to score from Lompoc. The scoring began in the bottom of the third as freshman Tyler Kaschewski got on base with one out. Justice Gibbons then hit a rocket at the shortstop that he feebly tried to grab with his bare hand and made it to second base as the ball trickled into left field.
Jared Money dug into the box next and belted an RBI double to left field that scored one and Noah Bullard’s sacrifice fly gave Templeton a 2-0 lead going into the fourth.
The biggest and most tense moment of the game came in the top of the fifth inning. Head Coach Pete Kotheimer walked out to the mound with a 3-1 lead and the bases loaded with only one out. Kotheimer called for Gibbons and Garcia ended the day pitching 4 ⅓ innings giving up three hits and one unearned run to go with five strikeouts.
After only a handful of warm-up pitches, Gibbons toed the rubber with the bases loaded, one out and only a two-run lead. Baseball season lasts a long time, and they play a lot of games, but often times it comes down to just one or two outs in a particular game that separates the champions from the rest.
Gibbons struck out the next two batter from Lompoc without them even taking the bat off their shoulder. Two consecutive strikeouts looking and the Eagles were out of the inning and invigorated with energy, Gibbons double-pumped his fists and let out a yell of triumph as he walked off the mound.
The two teams will meet again on Friday afternoon for the third and final time this season. After the series with Lompoc, the Eagles will play two league games against Santa Maria (who is currently in fourth) and two games against Orcutt Academy (who is currently in sixth). Because they now control sole possession of first place, they control how the season ends. If the Eagles win out they will be the 2018 Los Padres League champions.