High School Sports

Arroyo Grande clinches second place in PAC 7 baseball

San Luis Obispo High’s Connor O’Hare is safe at second base while Arroyo Grande’s Mitch Hollingsworth, left, and Clark Goossen chase a loose ball during Friday’s game.
San Luis Obispo High’s Connor O’Hare is safe at second base while Arroyo Grande’s Mitch Hollingsworth, left, and Clark Goossen chase a loose ball during Friday’s game. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Kyle Raubinger’s hitting display this year has surprised no one. His pitching has been a slightly different story, though.

Raubinger, a junior for the Arroyo Grande High baseball team, moved his record on the mound to 9-0 on Friday afternoon, hurling a complete game as the Eagles edged visiting San Luis Obispo 4-2 to clinch second place in the PAC 7 heading into next week’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.

In 2009, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Raubinger batted .405 with four home runs and 24 RBI but pitched just 152⁄3 innings, posting a 4.47 ERA.

He entered Friday not only first in the PAC 7 this year in on-base percentage (.561), second in both homers (five) and RBI (28) and fourth in batting average (.434), but also first in wins, third in ERA (2.04) after 48 innings, and fourth in strikeouts (47).

“Offensively, we’re getting what we expected,” Arroyo Grande coach Brad Lachemann said. “But he’s been very dominant on the mound. He’s very smart out there, and he’s been able to do a really good job throwing pitches where he needs to, especially in big situations.

“If we can’t win with Kyle on the mound, then we don’t deserve second place.”

Raubinger scattered eight hits Friday, struck out four batters and walked one.

“It’s a lot of fun, just going out there knowing I can win each game,” Raubinger said of his increased role as a pitcher. Still, though, he laughed, he “for sure” prefers coming to the plate himself.

Raubinger’s Tigers counterpart, Marco Murillo, also went the distance Friday, yielding five hits, striking out four and walking two.Fittingly, it was Raubinger who gave the Eagles (20-7, 12-6) a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI double that scored Jacob Kephart. They went up 2-0 an inning later on another run-scoring double, this time by Mitch Hollingsworth, which drove in Glenwood Lewis.

The Tigers, who finished third in the PAC 7, answered in the top of the fifth, as a Michael Nieporte sacrifice fly brought home Louie Summer.

In the bottom half of the inning, however, Arroyo Grande scored twice, as Hollingsworth and Forrest Pankey scored on back-to-back errors. After an ensuing Arroyo Grande error in the top of the sixth, Dylan Candaele drew a bases-loaded walk that scored Scott Shields, cutting the lead to two, but the Tigers got no closer.

“We struggled a little bit defensively,” Lachemann said, “and if we’re going to go anywhere in the playoffs, we’re going to have to make the routine plays.”

Each team finished with four errors.

“We’ve made the plays (during the season as a whole),” San Luis Obispo coach Casey Candaele said with regard to the errors. “Sometimes it just doesn’t happen, and there’s nothing you can do about that. That’s a part of baseball. We hit the ball and competed pretty well.”

Conor Mulvaney had a game-best two hits for San Luis Obispo (13-13-1, 10-8), which also got a double from Summer. Murillo, a sophomore, came into the contest fourth in the league with a team-leading 2.07 ERA through 471⁄3 innings.

“He was just a great surprise,” Candaele said of Murillo’s season. “He went out and competed every time, and always kept us in the game.”

Idle Paso Robles (17-11, 13-5) entered the week having already clinched the PAC 7 title after sweeping the Tigers and then claiming a 2-1 series win over the Eagles to close out its regular season.

“We were a little disappointed after the Paso series,” Lachemann said. “We thought we had a pretty good chance of pressuring them for (the league title).

“We could’ve folded up and called it a season, but to these guys’ credit, they bounced back and worked hard.”

Arroyo Grande, which at one point earlier this season had won 11 in a row while winning its first Don Lugo Tournament crown since 2003, was able to seize the league’s runner-up spot despite having lost three of its past five coming in.

“We bounced back really well,” Raubinger said. “Our team did what we needed to do to come back for second place.”

Division 2 playoff pairings will be announced at 1 p.m. Monday.

A year ago, San Luis Obispo won the league title at 15-3 before coming up a run short of advancing to the divisional semifinals.

“I still feel that our team can compete with anybody,” Candaele said, “so that’s (the mentality) we’re going to go into the playoffs with. A lot of things can happen in the playoffs if you get a good run going.”

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