Despite an inauspicious start to their second-straight do-or-die game, the Briarwood All Stars gave their fans one last thriller this past Friday. The Santa Clara squad fell behind 4-0 in the top of the first inning and would eventually trail 6-0. It wasn’t until the bottom of the third inning when the Briarwood bats finally barrelled some baseballs, getting themselves right back in the game with a four-run inning of their own.
Leadoff man Braden Rosa led off the third by reaching on an error before Justin Forster followed up with a bunt single. Sage Romero then drove a hard hit ball that took a wicked hop off the shortstop and into left field. Rosa would come around to score and both runners advanced on the throw home.
Now trailing 6-1 with runners on second and third, Toby Esqueda followed up by driving a shot that one-hopped the fence in left field, for a two-RBI double. Esqueda would advance to third on a groundout by Jacob Benson and then scored on a groundout by Mateo Esobedo for the fourth run of the inning.
“The first time through the lineup it was a little tough against their guy’s breaking ball,” admitted Romero on the lack of early offense. “But then we made some adjustments, got used to it and were able to put some runs on the board.”
Briarwood would inch another run closer in the bottom of the fifth. Romero led off by driving a solid single up the middle just past the diving second baseman. Esqueda then followed up by grounding out, but moved Romero to third in the process. Benson eventually drove home Romero with an opposite-field gapper that one hopped the fence in right center.
“I already had some strikes on me so I knew I just had to find a way to put the ball in play,” remarked Benson on his RBI double. “I saw a fastball that I needed to hit and drove it.”
At this point Benson’s hit had helped claw Briarwood back within just one run. Yet, if it weren’t for the pitching from Romero, who entered in the third inning, the comeback might not have been possible. Romero allowed a run in his first inning of work, but after Briarwood dropped their four spot, he shut the door with three-straight zeros.
“He was perfect, he was our guy today,” remarked Benson on Romero’s job on the mound. “He was throwing pretty fast, hitting his spots and kept them in check. That’s all we could ask from him.”
“Sage is great. Sometimes he takes a little bit of time to settle in, but once he does, he just shuts teams down,” said Briarwood Manager Carlos Escobedo. “So just a great job by him keeping us in the game.”
Briarwood managed to get their leadoff man on base in their final ups in the sixth inning. Andrew Traffas smoked a single through first and second, but the next three batters all hit into outs. The game ended 6-5.
The Briarwood All Stars have nothing to hang their heads about though, finishing in the Top 3 in the District is no small feat.