Kyle Raubinger finished what he started Tuesday. In a broader sense, so did the entire Arroyo Grande High baseball team.
Raubinger scored the go-ahead run in extra innings, and then came on in relief to get three straight outs, leading the Eagles to a 4-3 PAC 7 win at Paso Robles that clinched the league championship.
Coming into the three-game, Tuesday-Wednesday-Friday series, Arroyo Grande knew it needed just one win to clinch the title.
“We didn’t know if we’d be playing (today) for it, and as the week would’ve gone on, there would’ve been more and more pressure,” Eagles coach Brad Lachemann said. “It was nice to get it done today.”
It was the first league title for Arroyo Grande since 2003.
“I’m just proud of the guys and glad they got to experience this,” Lachemann said. “I don’t think they understand how much it means to them, or how much it’ll mean to them 10 to 15 years from now. They deserve it for all the work they’ve done.”
Raubinger finished 3 for 3 with an RBI. He led off the top of the eighth inning with a double, and scored on a Brent VanderVeen single to give the Eagles the crucial lead.
Cal Poly signee Colton Haynes pitched a solid game for Arroyo Grande, collecting five strikeouts and scattering six hits through seven innings. In the bottom of the eighth, with the league title three outs away, Raubinger took over.
“The bottom line is, for the last two years, if the game’s on the line, we want Kyle on the mound,” Lachemann said.
Raubinger signed with Loyola Marymount this past offseason after being named the PAC 7 Pitcher of the Year and playing at the prestigious Area Code Games in front of major-league scouts as a junior. Also the Central Coast’s home run leader with six, Raubinger came into the day with a league-leading 1.04 ERA.
“I trust him with anything,” Lachemann said.
Raubinger fanned the first two batters he faced before inducing a fly out and coolly stepping toward the Eagles’ dugout in anticipation of celebration to come.
“Go out there and get three outs,” Raubinger said with a smile of his mindset. “This was a game that we needed.”
The Bearcats (17-8, 10-6) have a one-game lead over San Luis Obispo (12-13, 9-7) for second place in the league standings. The Eagles (19-6, 13-3), who’ve won six straight, are looking for a higher seed in the upcoming CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
A year ago, the Bearcats edged the Eagles for the title by one game.
With Tuesday’s final out secure, Raubinger was mobbed by teammates near third base while a sizable contingent of Arroyo Grande fans at Barnhart Field erupted.
Raubinger had given the Eagles a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning, before a sacrifice groundout by Paso Robles’ Elias Stokes tied it 1-1.
Third-inning RBI singles by Mitch Hollingsworth and Cameron Petetit put the Eagles up 3-1, but Stokes drove in another run with a double in the bottom of the inning to bring Paso Robles within 3-2.
Jason Brown tied it 3-3 with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, setting the stage for the thrilling finish.
Petetit finished 2 for 3 with a double and the RBI. Jordan Morrison and Kyle Kleinsmith also had a double apiece in the win.
Mac Stuart was 2 for 3 with a double and drew an intentional walk for Paso Robles, and also pitched a complete game, giving up nine hits and four walks with one strikeout.
If it wins out, Arroyo Grande would improve its chances of drawing a wild-card team that would’ve already used its No. 1 pitcher before the first-round matchup.
“We were very lucky because Paso’s very good,” Lachemann said. “We certainly still have things to play for and want to stay sharp.”
Game 2 is at 4:30 p.m. today in Arroyo Grande.
“We’ve put so much work in as a team,” Raubinger said. “We’re going to play the next couple games like we played this one — play as hard as we can, get the ball rolling, keep the bats going and keep the pitching going.”