“Ball don’t lie.”
It’s a popular sports phrase often said by the team on the right side of a close play in a big situation. Sometimes it wins the game outright and, at minimum, it usually puts one team in a strong position to win.
The Santa Clara Bruins baseball team found themselves on the wrong side of more than its fair share of “ball don’t lie” situations this season. A 4-10 record in the annually tough De Anza league landed the Bruins in last place, but with even average luck the Bruins would have likely finished 6-8 or even 7-7.
Of the Bruins’ four league wins, one came against Wilcox and one came against Palo Alto. It had been 15 and 18 years respectively since the Bruins won baseball games against the Chargers and Vikings. Wilcox and Palo Alto finished tied for third in the eight-team division.
Santa Clara also lost its two games with second-place Los Altos by scores of just 5-2 and 4-3. While first place Los Gatos handily defeated the Bruins 13-2 in one game, Santa Clara also scored 11 runs against the Wildcats in what was a hard-luck 15-11 loss.
All told, in 14 league games the Bruins either won or lost by three runs or fewer in nine of them. If one includes the 15-11 loss, that’s 10 games that the Bruins either won or were competitive enough to win.
“I would say it’s bittersweet,” responded Bruins Manager Pedro Martinez when asked to assess a competitive season that didn’t end with the record they wanted. “It obviously sucks to be on the wrong end of those games. We would rather be on the winning end of course. It’s been that kind of year for us. Los Altos, Palo Alto, we played a lot of good teams and were just on the wrong end of some one-run games.”
“I feel like we had a chance all year,” chimed Bruins senior Orlando Lewis. “Some things may not have gone our way, but we still fought every game.”
Lewis typically played shortstop this year for the Bruins and would occasionally pitch in relief. On Friday, the Bruins finished the season against Homestead with Lewis starting on the mound for the first time in his high school career. In 5 1/3 innings of work, Lewis allowed Homestead just one earned run, which was scored in the sixth inning after he had left the mound.
Santa Clara would end up beating Homestead by a 5-4 final. The Bruins built a 5-1 lead on the strength of a big two-out, two-run single by catcher Steven Souza that gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
“A lot of people didn’t think we would even win this many games,” remarked Souza when asked about his takeaways from the season. “Our whole starting lineup last year except Orlando were seniors. So, people doubted us from the start, but we were in every ball game with top teams in this league. I think it shows what kind of team we have to fight with them. You could know they are the top teams and roll over, or play hard and scrappy, which is what we did.”