Befitting the prowess of its program, the Shadow Hills baseball team celebrated its’ 100th all-time varsity victory in fine fashion on Tuesday afternoon with a 3-2, walk-off win over De Anza League rival Rancho Mirage.
Tied 2-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the host Knights loaded the bases against Rattlers’ reliever Mario Ramirez-Pena before Shadow Hills designated hitter Alex Bejjani calmly belted a single up the middle on a 2-0 count to plate Kevin Morden for the deciding run amid a frenzied home crowd.
“It was a great win for the program. The kids knew about going for that 100th win going in, so we were really pushing for it, for the program,” said Knights’ head coach Teg Diffey. “And this win is big in the fashion that it happened. We needed to be tested, to be challenged, to see some adversity. Rancho Mirage battled. This was a CIF-type of atmosphere today.”
The win for Shadow Hills was more than just a legacy milestone; the Knights’ have won 15 of their past 16 games and are a perfect 8-0 in De Anza League play this year.
But perfection never comes easy.
Down 2-0 heading into the top of the fifth, Shadow Hills finally got on the board with an RBI single from shortstop Sean Roby. In the latter half of the ensuing inning, the Knights’ tied the game at two apiece, compliments of a sacrifice fly to center from right fielder Barrett Gonzalez.
For second-place Rancho Mirage, tasting victory against Shadow Hills left their skipper with a heartfelt, earnest tenor.
“I just focused on the positive, that we competed at a high level for seven innings,” Rattlers’ head coach David Shaw said of his post-game talk. “If we could do that every game, that’s all we can ask for. We can’t change the scoreboard now, but we’ve just got to make sure we give ourselves a chance every game.”
Star of the Game
Sean Roby: The Knights’ senior shortstop was spectacular on Tuesday, flashing his glove all over the diamond and going 3-for-3 with an RBI. In the bottom of the seventh, Rancho intentionally walked Roby to load the bases and take the bat out of his hot hand.
Starting pitchers: A well-played game on both sides was complimented by gutsy starting efforts from the Knights’ Alex Lopez and Rancho’s Henry Dougherty. In the win, Lopez went the distance, scattered eight hits and striking out four. Dougherty was equally effective for the Rattlers, pitching six tough innings and successfully stranding seven runners in the no decision.
Shadow Hills (8-0 De Anza, 15-5) will seek to keep the leather flying when it visits Desert Mirage this Thursday at 3:15 p.m. Rancho Mirage (5-3 De Anza, 9-10), losers in four of its past five, will aim to rebound with a home conference tilt vs. Desert Hot Springs on Thursday afternoon.