The past few times Ryan Brockman has been on the mound, the Paso Robles High senior received enough run support that suspense didn’t linger for too long.
That wasn’t quite the case Wednesday afternoon, but Brockman didn’t mind pitching under pressure.
“I love games like this where it’s close,” Brockman said.
He got his wish, and the win, as the defending PAC 7 champion Bearcats left San Luis Obispo High with a 5-4 victory to clinch the league series over the Tigers.
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“Very fortunate,” Paso Robles coach Derek Stroud said. “It was a tight ball game all the way through, and the breaks went our way.”
With the win, the Bearcats (10-2, 6-2) kept pace with Arroyo Grande (10-3, 6-2) for first place. A year ago, they edged the Eagles by one win for the PAC 7 crown.
“After winning the title last year, we all know everyone’s coming out for us so we don’t do it again,” Brockman said. “We just need to keep on doing what we’re doing.”
Brockman tossed a complete-game six-hitter with three walks.
In three previous starts this season, none of Brockman’s games were decided by fewer than four runs, and one was a 13-1 blowout of Righetti.
But the Tigers (5-5, 3-2) — coming off a similarly narrow 3-0 first-game loss Tuesday — stayed within reach Wednesday.
Although Paso Robles got out to a 4-0 lead through 21⁄2 innings thanks to three RBI by Jason Brown and one from Scott Plescia, San Luis Obispo cut that lead in half heading into the fourth.
“We’ve had some games where we’ve scored a lot of runs,” Stroud said, “but when there’s good pitching there’s not going to be a lot of runs scored. So we’ve got to try to manufacture them any way we can and try to put the ball in play and put some pressure on teams.”
After the Bearcats took a 5-2 advantage, Davis Casciola hit a one-out, two-run double before being tagged out at third base, bringing the Tigers within a run by the end of the fifth inning.
Louie Carlos then relieved San Luis Obispo starter Sean Mullen at the start of the sixth, pitching two shutout innings to give the Tigers a final chance to rally.
It proved to be in vain, though, as San Luis Obispo went three-up, three-down in the sixth, and then Brockman worked his way through five batters in the seventh with a groundout, a fielder’s choice and a flyout to end the game.
“He still had pretty good stuff,” Stroud said of Brockman’s late pitches.
Brown finished 2 for 4 with a double and three RBI to lead Paso Robles’ offense.
“He was huge for us,” Stroud said.
Elias Stokes and Angel Gonzalez also had doubles for the Bearcats.
Louie Summer hit a double and drew two walks for San Luis Obispo, and Marco Murillo had a pair of singles in the loss.
Mullen struck out two batters, walked three and scattered five hits over five innings. Carlos pitched two innings of two-hit ball with one strikeout.
Paso Robles will go for the sweep in the series finale at home at 4:30 p.m. Friday.