PBB: DP’s season ended by powerful San Clemente

Travis Craven pitched four innings for Dos Pueblos in its second-round playoff game against No. 1 San Clemente.

Travis Craven pitched four innings for Dos Pueblos in its second-round playoff game against No. 1 San Clemente. (Presidio Sports photo)

With its incredibly talented lineup, the red jerseys and the way it played the game, the San Clemente baseball team performed like the Big Red Machine on Tuesday in a CIF Division 2 second-round playoff game against Dos Pueblos at Scott O’Leary Field.

The Tritons even have an outstanding catcher like the Cincinnati Reds did in Johnny Bench during their Big Red Machine seasons of the 1970s.

Big Red San Clemente lived up to its No. 1 seeding against the Chargers as it rolled to a 10-1 victory.

“Unfortunately, we ran into a great team,” DP coach Nick Katzenstein said after the Tritons banged out 13 hits, including a homer off the light tower in left field, and blew the game open with a five-run second inning. “They were tough. (Will) Tribucher, their pitcher, did a great job. Offensively, man, they just crushed the baseball. They really had great approaches. They just kept tattooing our pitchers; it didn’t matter who we put up there. It was just a good hitting, a good solid team all the way around.”

San Clemente (24-7) came into the game ranked No 15 in the country and No. 5 in the state by MaxPreps. Earlier this season, it won the USA Baseball National High School Invitational in North Carolina. In their first two CIF playoff games, the Tritons have outscored their opponents 22-3.

Against DP, every San Clemente starter got a hit. Catcher Lucas Herbert led the way with a massive, two-run homer off the light standard in left field during the big second inning and lead-off double in the sixth. Herbert also showed off his cannon of a throwing arm as he picked off two Chargers at first base.

“We knew what he was about. He’s going to be a top rounder,” Katzenstein said of Herbert, a UCLA signee. “It’s tough because you go out there and all of sudden you see it. It’s a level we haven’t seen. He got two of us, even though we knew and were expecting it. That’s a tough thing to swallow as a coach but it’s impressive to watch that guy.”

“It’s all coaching,” San Clemente coach Dave Gellatly cracked. “No, he’s pretty darn good. He’s a top draft pick and he’s pretty fun to watch. He’s got a cannon and he sneaks up on people. One good thing about the playoffs is teams don’t often know about him. In our league, they stand pretty close to the bag. He always gets 1-2 a game and that makes us look good.”

Gellatly was pleased how the team played after a long bus ride.

“The kids played well. They’re a focused team,” he said. “They’ve had a great season and every game from here on out is icing on the cake. We hit the ball well, we played great defense and Will threw a great ballgame for us. I couldn’t be happier for us.”

The Tritons gave the Michigan-bound Tribucher a 5-0 lead in the second inning off DP starter Travis Craven. The outburst was started by No. 7 hitter Beard. He belted a one-out double to deep center field and Chris Puckett followed with a single up the middle. Tanner Lawson smashed a wicked one-hopper the shortstop couldn’t handle, allowing Beard to score the first run. Tyler Ankrom hit a hard ground ball to first and Puckett came home for a 2-0 lead. Herbert then crushed a ball off the light post for a two-run homer and a 4-0 lead. Tribucher singled to center and the ball was misplayed, allowing him to go to second. Brett O’Toole singled home Tribucher before being thrown out at second to end the inning.

Gellatly said the Tritons’ offense is rolling again after going through a slump during the middle of the season.

“The last two playoff games we’ve turned it back on. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and hope we keep that going,” he said.

Cameron Sealey blasted a run-scoring double and Puckett had a RBI sacrifice fly to make it 7-0 in the fifth. The Tritons added three more runs in the sixth.

Dos Pueblos got a run off Tribucher in the bottom of sixth. Gio Macias walked, Dustin Demeter singled and the two advanced on a wild pitch before a Luke Coffey flyout scored Macias. The Tritons lifted Tribucher for Riddle and he finished the game.

Dos Pueblos finishes the season with 16-15 record and a fourth straight Channel League championship. The Chargers received a challenging playoff draw. They beat a strong Villa Park team on Nick Noggle’s walk-off homer in the seventh and then played No. 1 San Clemente.

“It was a tough draw, we knew it,” Katzenstein said. “I told the guys just play and have fun, and see what happens. We did and we executed in that first game and good things happened. and we beat a good team. That’s how we’ve been playing all year long and our luck ran out against a good team.

“It was a good season for us,” he added. “We’re happy to have that league championship and make it to the second round. Obviously, we like to see ourselves go further. We just ran into the top-ranked team there.”