Let the May march begin anew.
Vying to reach the CIF championship for the fifth time in the past six years, the Palm Desert baseball team rode the electric right arm of its sophomore starter en route to a 5-1, first-round Division 3 playoff win over Northview High (Covina) on Thursday afternoon.
After falling behind 1-0 on an unearned run in the top of the second, the Aztecs received a two-RBI single from Cody Finley as part of a three-run burst in the latter half of the frame to claim a lead the hosts wouldn’t relinquish.
The playoff win marked the 12th consecutive victory for Palm Desert. Though the Vikings (13-18) entered the contest with a losing record, Northview arrived on a hot streak as winners of five of its past six games.
“When I saw the draw, I knew they were a good team,” Aztecs’ head coach Darol Salazar said of Northview. “We played them in the winter and I knew they had about four good arms. But I thought our approach at the plate was good all day, and when we’re hitting and pitching like that — it’s hard for teams to beat us.”
With the early edge, Jeremiah Estrada was literally unhittable in the final four innings.
“What we’ve really worked on with him (Estrada) is tempo and body presence, and he’s really improved in those areas,” said Salazar. “He gets after people, and that’s the way we like to play.”
Star of the Game
Jeremiah Estrada: “My focus today was to let them hit the ball and let my fielders do the work; just hitting my spots all the time,” said Estrada.
Allowing just an unearned run in the complete game win (his 10th victory of the season), Estrada gave up just four hits (all in the first three innings) while striking out eight.
Gil Sauceda: The Aztecs’ senior cleanup hitter went 2-for-2 with two RBIs, a walk and a run scored in his designated hitter role.
Palm Desert (23-7) moves on the the second round of the Division 3 CIF playoffs with a matchup vs. Ocean View (18-9), champions of the Golden West League. A Friday morning coin flip will determine the host team for a game scheduled for Tuesday at 3:15 p.m.