Kurakata’s clutch hit sparks Balboa

Gen Kurakata wasn’t considering the logic behind Lincoln’s decision to intentionally walk Max Schreiber in the bottom of the sixth inning of Monday’s San Francisco Section baseball playoff game, bringing him to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.

The senior only wanted to show the Mustangs they had made the wrong decision.

Kurakata didn’t wait long, ripping an RBI single to left field on the first pitch he saw to break a 7-7 tie, foiling any plans of a rally-killing double play.

The clutch hit lifted Balboa to a 9-7 win and a berth into Wednesday’s semifinals, where the Buccaneers (16-14-1) will face top-seeded Lowell (21-9) at Big Rec-Graham.

“My eyes just lit up and I was waiting for the first good pitch I saw,” Kurakata said. “I was thinking [Lincoln] wanted me up at the plate, and it was up to me to deliver.”

Carlos Frias followed Kurakata with an RBI groundout and Mairtain Steinkamp didn’t allow a ball out of the infield in the top of the seventh to nail down the win.

The calm final inning came in direct contrast to the top of the sixth, when Lincoln appeared poised to take control.

The Mustangs (9-13-1) entered the inning trailing 7-4, but rallied for three runs to tie the game and had runners on first and third with none out.

But then Lincoln’s Eric Foote broke from first base and Steinkamp stepped off the rubber and tossed the ball to shortstop Eric Lara, who alertly saw Brandon Lee breaking for home and fired a strike to catcher Nik Fangonilo to cut him down. Steinkamp then got out of the inning without any more damage, setting the stage for Kurakata’s big hit.

“We seem to always play close games with them and it can sometimes come down to a few big plays,” Balboa coach John Tynan said. “We’re starting to have some confidence we can win these types of games.”

Lincoln led 3-0 after Sean Rogers and Warren Kwan delivered RBI hits in the top of the third, but Fangonilo quickly answered with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.

It was 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth when key hits by Eric Lara, Kurakata, Frias and Son Hong put Balboa ahead 7-4.

Balboa 9, Lincoln 7

SAN FRANCISCO SECTION PLAYOFFS

First Round

Monday’s Results

» Balboa 9, Lincoln 7

» Galileo 5, ISA 0

Semifinals

Wednesday’s games

» Balboa (16-14-1) vs. Lowell (21-9) at Big Rec-Graham, 3:30 p.m.

» Galileo (18-5) vs. Washington at Big Rec-Nealon, 3:30 p.m.

Championship

Game of May 16

» Semifinal winners at AT&T Park, 3:30 p.m.

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