And then there were none.
The league-champion Paso Robles High baseball team represented the last of the PAC 7’s eight baseball and softball teams still alive for a section title, prior to the Bearcats’ first-round playoff game with visiting Chaminade on Friday.
And when the Bearcats (17-12) fell 9-1 at Barnhart Field, it dropped the PAC 7’s combined baseball and softball postseason winless record to 0-8. Of San Luis Obispo County teams in the CIF-Southern Section, only North County Christian in Division 7 was able to advance beyond the first round.
“There’s a lot of good teams in our sections,” Paso Robles standout Thomas Bernal said. “It’s hard to say. I think our league did pretty well. It’s a pretty good league.
“I don’t really know what to say to that one.”
Some of the games were close. San Luis Obispo held a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning before losing a Division 2 wild-card game earlier in the week. In the same wild-card round, Arroyo Grande lost another extra-inning affair, falling 6-3 in the 13th.
Those could have gone either way.
But Paso Robles’ loss to Chaminade (25-6), which sat atop the Division 2 poll until a two-game losing streak to end the season knocked the Eagles down to seventh, was lopsided early.
Going into their turn at bat in the bottom of the third, the Bearcats were already trailing 7-0 and Chaminade pitcher Michael Dingilian had a perfect game going.
Paso Robles shortstop Austin Swank ended the perfection by beating out an infield single in the third and scoring the Bearcats’ only run on a wild pitch to Angel Gonzalez.
Though Swank went 2 for 3, Dingilian combined with reliever Dalton Brown to strike out nine and limit Paso Robles to just five hits.
Dingilian, who improved to 7-0 on the season, mixed four pitches for strikes but relied heavily on his curveball, throwing it in the zone when he was behind in the count and getting the Bearcats to chase it when he was ahead.
“They were a fastball hitting team,” Dingilian said, “and I felt like if I mixed it up pretty good, they wouldn’t be able to hit me very well.”Chaminade had to win a wild-card game just to advance to Friday’s first-round matchup, but the Eagles are far from the ordinary third-place team. They were 23-4 before the two-game losing streak going into the playoffs.
“They’re the real deal, and they were ranked No. 1 until they lost a couple games in the last week of the season,” Paso Robles coach Derek Stroud said.
“And then they were a third-place team, but that’s baseball. They were in a good league. They play a top-notch schedule. We were going to have to do a lot of things right today to beat them, and it just didn’t happen for us.”
Steven Plescia, whose take on the submarine delivery helped him earn a 2-1 record with a 4.20 ERA coming into the game, got the start and was tagged for the loss.
Stroud was hoping Plescia’s unconventional arm angle could baffle Chaminade at least one time through the order.
But after retiring the first two batters of the game, Plescia allowed back-to-back doubles as well as a triple and a home run in the first two innings.
Bernal took the mound after that and pitched the rest of the game, striking out four and allowing only two runs after an error-filled third.It was the final game for Bernal, who was 1 for 2 at the plate with two walks.
Committed to play for Kentucky next year, the senior helped lead Paso Robles to two PAC 7 titles during his four-year career as a starter.
“You never want to say your best player this or that because everybody’s their own individual,” Stroud said, “but I can say he was the best player to coach. He just does it right.
“He led real well. We just kind of came together as a ballclub, and I think he had a lot to do with that.”