Marco Murillo’s earliest memory of varsity baseball was the first time he shared the experience with older brother David.
Marco, then a freshman at San Luis Obispo High, was called up for the 2008 CIF-Southern Section playoffs to watch David, a junior, pitch a first-round game.
He rode the team bus on the five-hour trip to East Redlands Valley High, where David and the Tigers lost a one-run extra-inning game that ended their year.
Three productive seasons later, Marco did all he could to keep history from repeating itself, but even without the bus trip, he saw his high school career end the same way it started — with a near identical 3-2 Division 2 first-round loss, this time to Redlands High.
“Coming into this year, I just wanted to try and take this team farther than my brother did,” Marco Murillo said. “It didn’t really work out.”
Murillo was 3 for 5 with a double at the plate, scored both runs for San Luis Obispo (21-7) and pitched a complete game on the mound Thursday at SLO Stadium, but the Terriers (25-5) rallied for three runs in the sixth inning to erase a 1-0 deficit and show why they’ve only lost one nonleague game all season.
“Murillo is probably one of the best arms we’ve seen all year long,” Redlands coach Estevan Valencia said. “He competes, he knows how to throw, and he’s such a great player, he does it with the bat.
“I just kept telling our guys, ‘Hey, just keep trying to figure this guy out and keep competing. Stay in the moment, and don’t get too excited and frustrated.’ ”
It took the Terriers five full innings before they got to him. Murillo, who struck out seven and walked none, had allowed only three hits going into the sixth.
But Jordan Arrowood got a Redlands streak of four straight hits started with a one-out double over San Luis Obispo left fielder Brian Coburn’s head in the sixth. Sean Smith drove in Arrowood with a double that danced just inside the base line at third to tie the score.
Smith scored on a throwing error after a single by Brian Ruhm, and Ruhm came around on a sacrifice fly by Chad Butler two batters later to make it 3-1.
“I just left the ball in the zone at the wrong time,” Murillo said. “The defense did everything they could to back me up, but it was just one pitch that slipped, got them started and got them going to score those runs. I take the blame for that one.
“We all played our hardest and did everything we could. We didn’t get too many open windows, and they got that window and were able to score those runs.”
The Tigers took the lead after Murillo led off the bottom of the first with a single and advanced to second on a fielding error in left field. Louie Summers sacrificed Murillo to third, and Sean Maguire later drove him in with a one-out RBI groundout.
Murillo singled in the seventh and cut the Redlands lead to one by scoring on a two-out single to right by Davis Casciola. Maguire struck out to end the game.
“It’s disappointing to know we could have beat that team,” San Luis Obispo coach Bobby Ryan said. “We had opportunities to score some runs, and with a couple timely hits, we get a two-out hit here or there, and we can break the game open a little bit.”
Two other times the Tigers had runners on third base but were unable to cash in.
After leading off the bottom of the third with a double, Murillo moved to third base on a groundout by Summers, but breaking for home on a grounder to short by Garrett Giovannelli, Murillo was easily tagged out at the plate.
After the Terriers struck for their big inning in the sixth, San Luis Obispo loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning on an error, a walk and a hit batter, but No. 9 hitter Sinjin Todd grounded out to first base to end the threat.
Other than that, Redlands pitcher Kavan Pardo handcuffed the Tigers. Pitching the complete game, Pardo struck out three and allowed only five hits three walks.
“He turned the ball over,” Ryan said. “He pulled the string a little bit, curveball in, curveball away. He snuck the fastball at different arm slots. Our guys haven’t seen a guy change arm slots all year. He definitely didn’t overpower us with the fastball, but he just mixed it up around the plate, kept us off balance.”