Every baseball player knows that the ball will find you.
It happened to San Luis Obispo High School second baseman Brooks Lee three consecutive times in the top of third inning in the Tigers’ CIF-Southern Section Division 3 first-round playoff game Friday against Segestrom. The first time, Lee made the play and threw to first. The second and third time, the ball went under his glove for an error. But every baseball player also knows to keep a short memory, as baseball is a game of failure.
The switch-hitting freshman did just that, redeeming himself in the bottom of the seventh by knocking a ball into right field to score sophomore Will Compton and win the game, 3-2 over their opponents from Santa Ana. Lee was 1 for 4 on the day, but he came up big when it mattered most — much to his relief.
“I was just trying to get a ball middle-in and try to hit it up the middle. Just get it in play,” Lee said of his approach to the game-winning at-bat. “I stayed positive and optimistic and ended up making the last play, thank goodness.”
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After Lee’s second error, senior shortstop Matt Mundorf came over and had words of encouragement for the freshman.
“He said, ‘Hey, keep your head in the game stay positive. The ball’s going to find you anytime,’ ” Lee said.
But the ball didn’t find Lee for the rest of the game until his walk-off hit.
The Tigers (25-6) didn’t play their best baseball, with three errors and were picked off two times on the day — not something a coach wants to see in a do-or-die playoff game. In the end, it didn’t matter.
“Usually these games depend on the team who makes the fewest mistakes wins,” San Luis Obispo head coach Brian Wong said. “(Segerstrom) made the fewest mistakes, but somehow we still came out on top. Luckily we had good pitching and timely hitting there at the end.”
Jake Rogers pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, and two runs — one earned — before Cooper Benson replaced him, allowing no hits with two strikeouts to finish the game.
The Tigers are now 24-3 on the year when holding a team to three runs or less. Wong credits the pitching for the team’s success.
“When you have a pitching staff with a one-to-two ERA, that helps,” he said. “As long as you score a couple runs, you’re going to win pretty much every game.”
Ben Lemiere also saved a run in the fifth when he threw home to snag a runner trying to score from second on a single. Catcher Noah Cracknell dropped the ball but recovered and dove to tag the runner before he could touch the plate to end the inning.
Four of the Tigers eight hits came from the top of the order, two from switch-hitters Lee and Mundorf, both of whom are hitting above .400. Two came from junior Bryce Ramirez, and senior Jeremy Jess doubled.
The Tigers will play Culver City on Tuesday in the second round.