With the game tied at three and stretching into extra innings at Don McIntyre Field, Lompoc turned to a veteran on the high school baseball diamond to lift the Braves past Cabrillo.
Justin Allen, now in his senior season, blasted a triple that scored Devin Villalobos for the clinching RBI – culminating in the 4-3 road win in eight innings over the Conquistadores on Tuesday evening.
Allen has already gotten used to being one of the top hitters throughout his time in an LHS uniform. So the former Righetti Warrior went with the same approach he’s had before during high-pressure situations: Wait for the right pitch.
“I was just trying to stick with the same approach I’ve been doing since the last game. I just wound up getting the right pitch and driving him in,” Allen said.
The right-handed hitter sent the ball flying between third base and center field to break the 3-3 tie.
The Los Padres League tournament game started out as a defensive battle for the first three innings. Both teams held each other scoreless until Noah Randolph scored on a passed ball, putting CHS up 1-0.
The fifth inning saw the Braves (2-0) come alive at the plate.
Fabian Concholla tied things up at one with his run. Jeffrey Ray – who just last week guided the Braves boys basketball team to the CIF Southern Section Division 4A semifinals – smashed a triple toward center field for the RBI that made it 2-1. Oscar Rojas then chipped a base hit that drove Ray home and made it 3-1 in favor of Lompoc.
Cabrillo (1-2) began to retaliate with its swings in the bottom of the fifth. Cesar Frausto, while facing two outs, drove Randolph home to cut the lead to 3-2. Then, Refugio Chavez smacked a base hit down left field that got Frausto home to tie things up at 3-3.
Cabrillo had an opportunity to break the tie in the bottom of the seventh.
Tony Hernandez got the inning started with his single toward left field. Frausto then added another base hit between second and first. However, while facing a full count, Chavez struck out – giving Lompoc its chance to break even.
That was when new head coach Brian Aguailar trusted Allen to deliver the final impact hit, as Allen was placed at the top of the batting order to start the game and never made changes with him at the lineup.
“He’s a senior and he’s a guy who is battle tested,” Aguailar said. “He’s been through two different high schools and it’s his senior year. We put him at the top of the order and we expected him to come through – which was what he did today.”
Aguailar, who is a former LHS baseball player, says his team is slowly but surely starting to have a full roster at practices – as guys were wrapping up their winter sports season. Aguilar says he likes the focus and energy of his first Braves baseball team.
“I love how they compete,” Aguailar said. “We look out for energy, focus and coming out to play every day. For high school kids, that gets hard sometimes. I think we’ve been sloppy in a lot of areas and we need to clean that up. But I can’t be really upset because we haven’t had too many practices. The competition and the focus have been through the roof, though.”
Lompoc returns home on Wednesday to face defending CIF Southern Section champion Santa Maria for a 3:30 p.m. contest. The Conquistadores take on Santa Ynez at home on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. The Braves started their season with a 8-6 win over Bishop Diego on Saturday. Cabrillo started its season with a split doubleheader against St. Joseph, losing the opening game 4-3 in nine innings and winning the other 4-3 in regulation.