Ryan Harvel picked a perfect time to toss his first complete game of the season.
The sophomore left-hander pitched a complete-game three-hitter, stifling No. 1 seeded Quartz Hill in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 baseball playoffs Friday to lead PAC 8 co-champion Paso Robles to a 4-1 victory.
What’s more, it came against an offense that averaged 9.1 runs per game before Friday.
“What a better time to do it than against a great hitting ball club,” Paso Robles head coach Derek Stroud said.
It was a bit of redemption for the Bearcats. In 2015, when Paso Robles also finished the regular season as co-league champios, they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by Quartz Hill.
“He’s been our Tuesday starter, and he’s given us quality starts,” Derek Stroud said, adding that the plan was to split Friday’s game between sophomore Lucas Climer and Harvel.
“He just looked sharp,” Derek Stroud added. “It looked like he got stronger as the game went on.”
Harvel escaped a two-out bases-loaded jam in the second inning, striking out a Quartz Hill batter for his second and final strikeout of the day.
“Coach told us that this team would jump on us if we let them,” Harvel said. “I let them go, and I had to come back from it.”
It was smooth sailing from there, as the only extra-base hit that Harvel gave up was a solo home run in the sixth. After the leadoff batter singled in the seventh, Harvel induced a double play and a pop-out to end the game.
The playoffs are a new experience for Harvel.
As a freshman starter, Harvel missed the second half of the league season last year with tendinitis and was forced to watch the Bearcats be eliminated in the first round. This year, he was determined to make a difference.
“All year I watched the other pitchers pitch in my spot, and I knew it should have been my spot,” Harvel said. “It’s kind of lit the fire for me this year.”
Now Harvel is a big reason why the Bearcats are in the semifinals of the playoffs for the first time since since 2006, when Paso Robles was in Division 2.
Harvel wasn’t the only underclassmen who had an impact Friday. Freshman first baseman Hunter Barnhart also singled to bring in the Bearcats’ second run.
The Bearcats took advantage of free bases, drawing five walks and stealing two bases. Once players were in scoring position, Bearcats hitters made contact. Dylan Lewis had a pair of RBI-singles, and Will Stroud had one, in addition to Barnhart’s.
Paso Robles will play at Walnut in the semifinals Tuesday. Senior Nolan Binkele, the winning pitcher in Paso Robles’ second-round victory, will likely get the start for the Bearcats (26-7).