Paso Robles baseball falls to Walnut in sectional semifinals

Derek Stroud (right) has retired as head baseball coach at Paso Robles High School after 20 seasons.
Derek Stroud (right) has retired as head baseball coach at Paso Robles High School after 20 seasons.

Paso Robles jumped out to an early lead but couldn’t hold on and eventually lost 3-2 to Walnut High on Tuesday in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 baseball playoffs in Walnut.

Paso Robles senior catcher Mark Armstrong opened the scoring in the top of the third inning with an RBI single to bring home senior Nolan Binkele. Junior Dylan Lewis followed that with an RBI single of his own to score Seth Matthysse, and the Bearcats took a 2-0 lead.

“We couldn’t get much going after that,” Paso Robles coach Derek Stroud said.

Walnut scored two runs on a single in the bottom of the fourth inning and added another run in the bottom of the sixth to take a 3-2 lead. In the top of seventh, Binkele hit a double, putting the possible tying run at the plate, but Walnut pitcher Brandon Godoy induced two Bearcats ground outs to end the game. Godoy stuck out seven batters in the complete-game win.

Binkele struck out three batters and gave up five hits in six innings of work for Paso Robles. Armstrong led the way at the plate with a 2-for-3, RBI performance.

“We had five seniors, but Mark and Nolan were great leaders of the ball club this season,” Stroud said. “I can’t say enough about them.”

Paso Robles (26-7, 18-3 PAC 8) finished the season as PAC 8 co-champs and had its best playoff run since 2006 when it advanced to the quarterfinals.

The last time Paso Robles reached the Division semifinals was in 1978, according to Stroud.

In the other semifinal, Matt Sauer struck out 10 batters and gave up three hits to lead PAC 8 co-champs Righetti to a 1-0 win over Paraclete. The Warriors will face Walnut in the Division 3 finals on Saturday in Riverside.