Dos Pueblos makes an early playoff exit

Two dribblers and a blast helped knock Dos Pueblos out of the CIF baseball playoffs on Thursday.

Trabuco Hills found the holes in the DP defense and scored three runs in the top of the fourth inning, and that was enough to beat the Chargers, 3-2, in a Division 2 first-round game at Scott O’Leary Field.

The loss spoiled a solid pitching performance by DP senior Joe Huthsing, who was making his first start of the season. The Azusa Pacific recruit played catcher for most of the year to rest a sore arm. He got the start when Luke Loggins was scratched for personal reasons.

“The longest he’s gone this year is three innings, so (for him) to go seven is just a tribute to what a competitor he is,” DP coach Nate Mendoza said of Huthsing. “I’m really proud of him. That one big hit is what got us.”

The one big hit was a double to center by Trabuco Hills’ No. 8 hitter, Brett DaRé, with the bases loaded.

“I’m always waiting for that one at-bat where I get the chance, looking for that one pitch I can drive and I got it,” said DaRé.

But before DaRé’s clutch two-out hit, Nick Tanner and Cole Stanton poked seeing-eye singles through the hole between second and first base and Steve Garland dropped a short fly ball to right for another single to load the bases.

“They got those two weak ones through the hole … that’s baseball, I guess, sometimes,” said Huthsing.

Huthsing made a terrific defensive play on the next Mustangs hitter, Trevor Peterson. He knocked down Peterson’s smash up the middle and threw to catcher Colin Cole to get a force out at the plate.

But Huthsing fell behind in the count to DaRé and he made him pay with a bases-clearing blast to deep center. The ball was hit to straight-away center but DP center fielder Dylan Rohde was shaded more toward the gap in right center.

“Originally, I thought that was going to be caught,” Huthsing said. “We were shading him toward right center because we had the two go through the 3-4 hole.”

Said Mendoza, “We positioned him just where we thought we had the best chance to make a play. Unfortunately, we were a little wrong and they peppered the ball a little left of center and we weren’t able to make the play.”

The Channel League champions (18-10) battled back in the bottom of the fourth. Huthsing drew a walk against Trabuco Hills starter Kevin Wade and scored when Rohde poked the ball to right field and the throw to third base got away for an error. Ben York followed with a sacrifice to move Rohde to third and Nathan Soto singled to right to score Rohde and make it a 3-2 game.

The rally ended when Wade got the next batter to hit into a double play.

Wade pitched a terrific game for the Mustangs (15-13), the No. 3 team from the Sea View League. The 6-4, 230-pound junior, an All-CIF pick last year, allowed six hits, struck out five and got 12 ground-ball outs.

“Kevin did a great job,” Trabuco Hills coach Michael Burns said. “It was a big boost to get him back.”

Wade missed most of the first half of the season while recovering from knee surgery.

“We got him back 3-4 weeks ago. He’s just now getting his stride,” said Burns.

The Chargers had a chance to get to Wade early, putting two runners on with one out in the first. But Wade got the next two batters on a strikeout and groundout to first.

DP struggled to get the timely hits late in the season.

“We definitely weren’t scoring runs as well as we would have liked,” Huthsing said. “We weren’t getting the big hit at the right time. Even today, we had runners on and we didn’t capitalize like we should have, or could have. That kind of cost us toward the end of the season.”

“Lethargic, that’s how I would describe it,” Mendoza said of the team’s hitting woes. “We just couldn’t string consistent hits together.

“Pitching and defense were there,” he added. “We scored two runs that inning, unfortunately we couldn’t get any more across. But, I’m real proud of the guys and how they fought all year.”

Trabuco Hills 3 Dos Pueblos 2
Trabuco Hills…000 300 0 — 3 8 1
Dos Pueblos…000 200 0 — 2 6 0
Wade and DePerry; Huthsing and Cole. W—Wade. L—Huthsing.
2B—TH: DaRé, Stanton.