SANTA YNEZ — Turning the rest of the Los Padres League baseball season into an all-out dogfight, the Templeton High School boys varsity baseball team dropped two of the top three teams to stay one game out of first place, as five teams vie for the title.
Halfway through the season, attrition will begin to play a role as teams try to keep their pitchers healthy and teams error-free.
Keeping the title within reach, the Eagles battled for a 4-2 win against first-place Santa Ynez on Friday, March 31.
The Pirates put the Eagles on notice in the top of the first inning, taking a 2-0 lead, but the Eagles battled back in the bottom of the first and held the Pirates scoreless the rest of the way.
Leadoff batter Shane Wyatt put the Eagles in position to make the charge with a single to center field. THS sophomore shortstop Justice Gibbons walked, and junior Noah Bullard successfully bunted to load the bases.
THS junior Jarred Briltz sacrificed to center field, and Wyatt came home to score. THS sophomore Tyler Frigon singled to load the bases again. Gibbons scored on an error, and Bullard scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by THS junior Rigel Hall and the Eagles exited the bottom of the first with a 3-2 lead.
THS junior Cole Garcia battled on the mound for the Eagles, and the stingy fielders backed him up to defeat the Pirates.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Hall batted in Bullard again, and Templeton stayed the course to deliver the win over the first-place Pirates.
Holding onto the lead, Gibbons came in to close on the mound for the Eagles, and as THS head coach Pete Kotheimer predicted before the game, if the Eagles could give Gibbons a close game, he would finish the job.
Hall hit 1 for 2, with two RBI. Bullard hit 1 of 2 with two runs. Wyatt went 2 for 3, with one run and a walk.
Following the close win over the Pirates, Templeton met the Cabrillo Conquistadores on Tuesday in Lompoc.
THS senior Brodan Willison pitched a complete game to earn the win as the Eagles dropped the Conqs, 11-1.
A big day at the plate for several Eagles led to the big win. Holding a 1-0 lead heading into the top of the third, the Eagles tacked on four runs to build a 5-0 lead.
Hall singled to right to score Bullard for his second RBI of the game. THS sophomore Jared Money walked, Frigon scored. Junior Ryan Lebens singled, Hall scored. Wyatt grounded, and junior Colton Wiggins scored to put the Eagles up by a nickel.
Templeton added one in the fourth, three in the fifth, and two more in the top of the seventh as they rolled to a 11-1 lead.
Hall hit 2 for 2, with two runs, two RBI, and two walks. Briltz was 3 for 5, with two RBI and one run. Bullard went 2 for 3 with two runs and two walks.
The Eagles host the Conqs for a doubleheader today at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Vineyard Athletic Park.