Hounds finish second in PAC 8

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Coming into the final series of the year, the Greyhounds had a chance to lock up the PAC 8 league title, but in order to do so, they would need to sweep the No. 8-ranked team in Division 3 of CIF, the San Luis Obispo Tigers.

The Hounds are currently 18-9 overall and 14-6 in the division. Atascadero made an incredible turnaround right after they hosted their annual Easter tournament. Before the tournament, Atascadero was 4-5 in their first nine games and dropped their first series to St. Joseph. Following the Easter tournament, the Hounds won nine straight games on three consecutive sweeps to Paso, Mission Prep, and Pioneer Valley.

Atascadero entered this week’s series two games back of the Tigers and had a chance to steal away the league title with a sweep. SLO leads the PAC 8 in run differential through league, sitting at 90-plus, but the Hounds are not far behind at 61-plus. It’s clear that these are the two best teams in the league, and while the Hounds might not be able to win league outright, they still have a chance to be the first team to beat the Tigers in a series this year.

SLO has the home field advantage in this series, meaning that Tuesday’s game was played on the south side of the grade. It felt like a championship game — the tension from both teams wafted through the brisk air like barbecue smoke from a neighbor’s cookout.

The Tigers scored a run in the bottom of the first inning to take the lead and added another in the bottom of the third. The game reached its peak in the top of the fifth inning. With two outs, Christian Morgan and Nathan Mitchell each singled and were sitting on first and third base. Next up for the Hounds were back-to-back Merediths. Nathan dug into the box and showed his great patience and plate vision by taking a walk in one of the most important moments in his young baseball career. With the bases loaded, Nolan stepped into the box and drove his one-and-one pitch into right centerfield scoring two runs and tying up the game.

The excitement was short lived for Atascadero as the Tigers tacked on two more runs in the bottom half of the inning and eventually walked away with the win and the league title 4-3.

On Wednesday, Atascadero hosted the Tigers and evened up the series at one apiece. This time it was the Hounds that jumped out to the early lead by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the first an adding three more in the third. Atascadero added one more run in the bottom of the fifth, giving them 6 runs total, and were able to hold off the Tigers late, winning 6-5.

Atascadero will go for the series win today in San Luis Obispo in their final game of the regular season. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.


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