SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The bases were loaded. A 9-0 deficit became a two-run gap in the final inning. The Lompoc 15-year-old All-Stars had their top hitters on deck with their Babe Ruth baseball season on the line.
But Lompoc only mustered one run in that scenario — and ended its summer season with a 10-8 loss to Yuma, Arizona on Thursday afternoon, making it Lompoc’s second loss in the Pacific Southwest Regional double-elimination tournament in South Lake Tahoe.
Lompoc, which ran through the Central California gauntlet earlier this month without a single loss in Reedley, finishes 2-2 overall in the prestigious baseball regional that drew talent from Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona, Utah, the Bay Area and the Los Angeles region.
Oscar Rojas loaded the bases with his walk to first during the bottom of the seventh inning. Kalub Ramirez then got Lompoc its last run off of his fielder’s choice RBI between second and first base. The game would end, though, on an Anthony Lopez ground out — preventing the blue-and-white-clad team from completing the miracle comeback in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Manager Tommy Silva had to uplift and console an emotionally distraught group of teenage baseball players after the game.
“We told them how proud of them we were,” Silva said by phone interview. “We came out in the end with our heads held high.”
Yuma ran up the score the moment the first pitch was tossed, reaching seven runs before the end of the first inning. Yuma later tacked on two more runs in the second — extending its lead to 9-0.
Silva, though, decided to take a positive approach with his frustrated team in the dugout during that nine-run hole.
“They were down, but we told them we still have five innings left,” Silva said. “Then they responded, which I expected. They left their hearts out on the field.
Then along came the Lompoc rally, as the 805’s lone representative in the 15-year-old tournament put up three runs in the bottom of the fourth, followed by two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Lompoc then cut the lead to 10-8 in the bottom of the seventh.
Yuma, however, clamped down on the mound by denying a double or outfield fly ball in the final inning.
Now, the 15-year-olds will move on to both Cabrillo and Lompoc High and continue their baseball careers as city rivals. But Silva said he and the coaches will still plan on being in their lives.
“We told them we will be rooting them on, whether if it’s at LHS or CHS,” Silva said.
He concluded that he and his team were thankful for the outpouring of support the 15-year-olds had in their historic state run, as Lompoc continued to dedicate its season to their deceased former teammate Noah Scott.
“That’s been the theme all summer — the season for Noah. He’s who we played for. We want to thank the city of Lompoc for supporting us and watching us the whole way. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible. We will come home with our heads up,” Silva said.
Lompoc stayed alive in the tournament with a win on Wednesday.
In that game, Lompoc put together a bounce back win after it spent its Tuesday night enduring a 15-5 drubbing against Oahu, Hawaii — a contest that saw Lompoc falling behind 11-0 in the first three innings.
But Silva said he saw a more aggressive offense this time at the bat against an All-Star group from the Beehive State, as Lompoc scored eight runs in the second inning.
“We came out, got a big lead, hit the ball well and everyone contributed,” Silva said in a telephone interview after that game.
Matt Gonzales helped elevate Lompoc’s offensive game with four RBIs. He smashed a triple and single against a pitcher trying to come after Lompoc with mostly fastballs.
Anthony Lopez, Corbin Hayes, Isaiah Hernandez and Ray Ochoa were other contributors to the hitting party, as the quartet of players chipped in big singles. Nicholas Ahedo also had an RBI, as his left field smash brought one runner home. Lopez added a sacrifice fly that drove Oscar Rojas home. Rojas also added a sacrifice fly deep toward center field in the contest.
Lopez took the victory on the mound, as Silva said the right-handed ace stayed on the hill for three innings of this short contest. Ethan Malta relieved him in the fourth inning.