The startling season-ending double play that doomed Coast Union in its CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoff game against the Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals (Tuesday, May 24) was eerily equivalent to the team’s sudden demise in the 2015 baseball playoffs.
A year ago the Broncos had the tying run on third — in the person of fleet-footed Bien Trieu — with one out in the seventh inning of their opening playoff game. Gehrig Kniffen, the team’s best hitter, was at the plate, and was given the bunt sign. Unfortunately he popped a bunt to the first baseman, who quickly fired to third to double up Trieu, who had started toward home.
On May 24, 2016, the Broncos had the tying runs on base in the seventh inning with one out when pitcher Chase Volz hit a little blooper to the Cardinals first baseman. Will Stephenson, the runner at first, moved a few feet off the bag with the crack of the bat, and it appeared that he was able to dive back prior to being tagged.
We had them, then let them back in.
Brian Machado, Coast Union baseball coach
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Although the first base umpire was not in an ideal position to see whether Stephenson actually got back to the bag before the tag, the sophomore was instantly called out. Double play, end of game, end of season, end of high school careers for seniors Lane Sutherland and Cade Hollingshead.
Summing up the game in the aftermath, head coach Brian Machado said, “We had them, then let them back in.”
But there are positives that emerge notwithstanding the outcome.
To wit, the Broncos have two talented juniors returning in 2017 (Auggie Johnson and Jack MacKinnon); five very capable sophomores (Volz, Stephenson, Riley Kennedy, Edgar Nunez, Nic Robertson); and three freshmen with potential (David May, Cameron Castle, Magnus Marthaler).
Coming up from Santa Lucia Middle School to join the varsity are three good young players: Emany Plasencia, Nate Markham and David Amodei.
Special to The Cambrian.