TEMPLETON — The Templeton boys baseball season came to an end last week in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Central Section DIII semifinals losing to the eventual CIF Champions, Ridgeview, 1-0 at home at Vineyard Elementary School. Templeton entered the playoffs as the no. 1 seeded team in the DIII bracket after finishing the regular season 18-7 and in second place in the Mountain League.
Templeton entered the season with some high expectations after making it to the CIF Semifinal in 2019 with a team made up of almost entirely underclassmen who are now juniors and seniors. However, even with high expectations, the Eagles surpassed them, finishing second in the Mountain League and nearly knocking off the top-ranked team in the Central Section in Arroyo Grande in a three-game series.
“When people asked me how I thought the team was going to do this year, I told them that if we could make a run at the playoffs and be playing our best ball at the end of the year, I would be happy.” Templeton head coach Rob Tompkins told the Atascadero News. “A .500 season in the Mountain League would be competitive for us, and we far exceeded that expectation and took second in league.”
The Eagles got off to a hot start at 5-2 in their brief non-league schedule due to the condensed COVID-19 shortened season before heading into league play. Templeton opened league with back-to-back series wins over San Luis Obispo (won series 2-1) and Atascadero (sweep) before heading into the big series with Arroyo Grande.
Templeton battled Arroyo Grande till the bitter end in game one but eventually lost in extra innings 4-3. Arroyo Grande controlled the second game between the two, but Saturday’s second doubleheader almost went the Eagle’s way as they entered the sixth inning up 5-3 but could not hold on at the end.
Following the sweep to Arroyo Grande, Templeton lost their next game against St. Joseph, which became the turning point in the season. According to coach Tompkins, the players on the team called for a meeting to discuss what type of team they want to be, and they ran the table from that point on.
Templeton won eight straight games to end the year, including a series sweep of the Paso Robles Bearcats, which put them in second place in the Mountain League and earned them the no. 1 seed in the DIII playoffs.
The strength of the Templeton team this season was unquestionably their pitching, as the Eagles had two of the top pitchers in the county in senior Ryan Domingos and junior Robbie Lardner, who each finished with earned run averages under one. Lardner finished the season 6-3 with a .71 ERA on 19 appearances and recorded 118 strikeouts while only giving up walks. Domingos finished the season 9-1 with a .86 ERA on 13 appearances striking out 73 while allowing only 30 walks. Each of the two boys only allowed seven earned runs on the season.
Finishing second in league earned the Eagles the no. 1 seed in the playoff bracket and a first-round bye. In the second round, Templeton faced the no. 9 seed in Immanuel and cruised to a 10-1.
For the second time in three years (realistically the second time in two years because the 2020 season was lost due to COVID-19), Templeton would play in the semifinal and fall, this time to Ridgeview 1-0. The Wolfpack were able to sneak one run in against Lardner in the fifth inning and ended up being enough as the Eagle offense was only able to generate five hits in the afternoon.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the team and the way that they fought. They never gave up and never got down,” Tompkins said.
While the Eagles will say goodbye to five seniors this year, they will still return a strong team next year, with one of the top players in the county sitting in their dugout.