Cleanup hitter Nick Pagan squeezed in Paul Rojas with the go-ahead run to help Redlands East Valley High into the CIF championship baseball game after the Wildcats got by visiting Goleta Dos Pueblos, 2-1 on Tuesday. REV starter Ryan Silva earned his second playoff win by going six innings, allowing only an unearned run. Noah Moya replaced Silva after Evan Kling led off the seventh with a single. Moya retired the next three batters to save REV a spot in this Saturday’s Division 2 title game.
Pagan accounted for REV’s first run in the first inning when his infield grounder was misplayed, allowing Christian Kirtley to score. Regarding his third inning bunt single, Pagan said it was his first time bunting. “I have never had a bunt single in my life,” said the big designated hitter. Pagan’s bunt went dead in front of the plate, allowing Paul Rojas to score from third base. Neither the third baseman nor catcher could pick up Pagan’s squeeze bunt. Rojas led off the inning with a triple.
“Bunting is the first thing we practice. Everyone on this team is expected to know how to bunt,” said REV coach James Cordes, whose team improved to 23-7. The five-time defending Channel League champion Dos Pueblos finish at 23-9. The Chargers had two chances to break through by loading the bases in the first and fifth innings. Chargers’ coach George Hedrick called the lost opportunity in the first inning “most discouraging.”
Hedrick said his team hit the ball hard but right at people, yet credited Silva with mixing up his pitches. “It was a bummer it had to end this way. Today, we tip our caps to them.” Neither Silva nor Dos Pueblos pitcher Darby Naughton were overpowering but both junior’s were able to effectively limit the opposition. Silva improved to 7-4, 0.90 ERA by allowing four hits, striking out two and walked two. Naughton, 7-1, 1.35 ERA, allowed six hits, walked three, struck out two in six innings.
“I try to let my defense do the work,” said Silva, who agreed that both his playoff wins were his best games pitched this season. “The situation adds an element of importance to the way I’ve been pitching lately. We have something special going.” Silva yielded the Dos Pueblos unearned run in the fifth on a single, an error, a walk and Peter Appel’s sacrifice fly. Silva said he throws a fastball, change, and curve.
The slender right-hander pitched a complete game 1-0 win over Cerritos Gahr in the quarterfinals. “He’s been our guy all year,” said Cordes. “When you get this far every playoff team is hot. I expected this game to be low-scoring.” Cordes realized that when he replaced Silva with Moya that Silva still had “a lot of gas left in the tank.” He added, “Moya has saved some big games for us all year. I had no second guesses.”
Moya explained the key to his success is confidence. “I don’t study the other team and I don’t look to see who you are. I’m going to get you out with my pitches.” Moya closed out the game by getting University of Hawaii-recruit Justin Demeter to fly out. He threw a full-count slider to retire the relative of former 1959 Los Angeles Dodger hero Don Demeter.
REV’s CIF-Division 2 championship game will take place Sat. (June 4) at San Bernardino San Manuel Stadium. REV’s starting pitcher Andrew Miner is scheduled to throw the first pitch at 4 p.m. against No. 1 ranked West Covina South Hills HS. Miner has a 9-0 record with a 1.06 ERA. REV lost its only title game appearance in 2008 under coach Steve Hernandez who’s starting pitchers were current major leaguer’s Tyler Chatwood and Matt Andriese. REV also made it to the semifinals in 2009 during Cordes’ first year as coach.