The Sacred Heart Cathedral baseball team will be moving on to the Central Coast Section Division II finals.
A No. 12-seed that didn’t make the postseason last year, that had to split its opening game into two parts, that needed a big block from a backup catcher on Monday to advance to the semifinals, the Irish got their fair share of luck and clutch hitting on Wednesday night in Santa Clara, beating No. 1 seed Monterey 3-0.
Sacred Heart Cathedral had not been to the CCS semifinals since they were in Division III in 2010, and then, as a No. 15 seed, they lost to No. 3-seed Menlo. The No. 1 seed itself last season, the Irish were upset in the second round by No. 8-seed Burlingame. Friday’s trip to the finals will head coach Brian Morgan’s second championshiph appearance. Sacred Heart Cathedral has not been to the finals since 2001, and hasn’t won since 1998.
Sacred Heart Cathedral took advantage of several miscues by the Toreadores in the fourth inning. Raphael Cervantez reached on an error after a seven-pitch at-bat to lead off, and a Lucas Herrera bunt forced another error, this one by first baseman Joey Pinto, putting men at the corners for Conner LaChapelle. LaChapelle grounded out on a 2-0 offering to second, scoring the first run of the game.
Junior Chris Rodriguez sent a fly-ball single to center on the fifth pitch he saw, putting men at the corners again. Pinch hitter Conner Gregorio then sent a sacrifice fly to center, bringing home Herrera. Then came the big blow — a run-scoring double by junior Mateo Parks to left — bringing home the third run of the frame.
That was plenty for starter Owen Stevenson. The winner of Sacred Heart Cathedral’s playoff opener — a game separated into two days because of inclement weather and unplayable field conditions at Aragon — Stevenson also saved Monday’s 2-1 nailbiter against Willow Glen. On Wednesday night, he pitched a complete-game shutout, striking out five and walking two, alowing just three hits. He also got out of a two-on, no-out jam in the fourth, getting a strikeout and a double play to end the inning, preserving his team’s momentum.
The Irish will play in the finals on Friday at 7 p.m., at the home of the San Jose Giants: San Jose Municipal Stadium.