TEMPLETON — For the third and final time this season, the Templeton Eagles baseball team took on its rival, the Morro Bay Pirates, and for the third time they emerged victoriously. The win extends the Eagles winning streak to ten straight games, bringing their record to 10-0 overall and 8-0 in the Los Padres League.
The teams met for the first time on March 1 in the most lopsided game of the series with the Eagles running away with the victory 17-1. Last Monday, the two went head-to-head once more (with games forced to be made up due to rain), this time in a much more competitive game, albeit Templeton never trailed and won the game 5-2.
This Monday the two teams played the final installment of the three-game series and it was, by far, the most competitive game between the two schools.
Senior pitcher Jake Neate got the call for the Eagles and pitched a great game after a shaky start. For the first time against the Pirates this season, the Eagles trailed in a game after giving up two runs in the top of the first inning. Neate walked the Pirates leadoff batter and misfired on a throw to first, after Morro Bay put down a nice bunt, putting two runners in scoring position before an out had been recorded.
“Coach talks about being a bulldog a lot,” Neate said after the game. “Three times out of ten you aren't going to have your best stuff and you just have to battle, and that's what we did.”
A bloop single and a wild pitch accounted for the two runs scored, but that is all the Pirates would get the rest of the game.
“It [off-speed pitches] was the thing I was struggling with — fastball was working nice,” Neate said. “I just had to focus on that changeup and curveball and really focus on it and get that in there and it worked pretty well. A couple times I struggled but we got it in the end.”
Neate came out in the second inning looking much more composed, began dealing and the defense behind him picked him up. Third basemen Noah Bullard made back-to-back spectacular plays — one diving and one sliding — to record the final two outs of the 1-2-3 inning.
The Eagles got one of the two runs back in the second inning when Adrian Flanagan opened up the inning with a single and then stole second base. Sophomore Nolan Stetz (who went 2-for-3 with an RBI) then roped a single into left-center field scoring Flanagan.
Templeton was hitting the ball all over the yard but it seemed to be aimed directly at a Pirate player each time. After getting shelled in the first game between the two teams the Pirates made a strategic decision to use slower pitchers that threw off the Eagles rhythm in the box. Five innings is all the Eagles needed to see of the Morro Bay pitcher before dialing in.
Templeton entered the inning with their ninth hitter up and then the top of the lineup. Each of the players batting 1-4 recorded a hit in the inning including two doubles and three runs. Justice Gibbons began the proceedings with a double that bounced off the third base bag into left field. Jared Money singled and Noah Bullard doubled down the left field line scoring the tying run and setting the table for the cleanup hitter, Jarred Briltz.
Briltz hit a bloop single that dropped just in front of the right fielder, scoring two more runs and giving Templeton a 4-2 lead that they would never relinquish (video below).
The Eagles have two more big games this week as they finish their series with Santa Ynez, the second best team in the LPL.