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In the News: Warriors Are CCS Bound

South City’s Mason Quintanilla strokes an RBI single to left to drive in the tying run in the bottom of the second inning. The Warriors would go on to beat Priory 6-4 to share the PAL Lake Division title, and claim the division’s lone automatic CCS berth by winning the season series from Priory. (Source: Nathan Mollat, San Mateo Daily Journal)
Warriors are CCS bound
By Nathan Mollat Daily Journal staff
May 9, 2024 Updated May 12, 2024
Never have two teams experienced a co-championship as differently as the Priory and South City baseball teams.
Priory headed into the final week of Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division play needing to beat South City in one of two head-to-head meetings to clinch the outright division crown.
But the Warriors, who came into the week trailing the Panthers by two games, pulled one game closer following Tuesday’s 8-1 win in Portola Valley.
The rematch was Thursday in South City and as the Warriors celebrated a 6-4 victory to earn a share of the Lake Division championship, the Panthers glumly watched from their dugout area.
While the teams will share the championship in the PAL history book, and both have the option to hang a championship banner, it is the Warriors’ season that will continue as they earned an automatic bid to the Central Coast Section playoffs. South City earned the No. 1 seed out of the division by winning the three-game season series from Priory.
For Priory, it ended the Panthers’ season. For South City, it is the Warriors first division title since 2014.
“We knew we had to win league to move on (to CCS),” Schaukowitch.
The two met early in the season, with the Panthers taking a 2-1 decision in eight innings.
“I had this game circled on the schedule,” said South City manager Matt Schaukowitch. “I knew it would be a big week.”
It took on even bigger ramifications when South City (13-2 PAL Lake, 21-5 overall) inexplicable dropped a 6-5 decision to Westmoor April 25 to fall two games behind Priory (13-2, 13-4), which won its first 13 games in Lake Division play.
Schaukowitch said that loss to the Rams may have been the most important game of the season.
“That loss to Westmoor was probably the best thing to happen to us,” Schaukowitch said. “We had a long talk after that one about how you can’t take anyone for granted and have to focus on every game.
“We got back on track after that.”
The Warriors rebounded to win three straight, including a sweep of Crystal last week to set up this week’s showdown.
But with a league title and playoff berth on the line, no one would begrudge any of the players for being a little tight and nervous, with both teams making mistakes early on that led to runs.
“It’s tough for kids who haven’t been around (pressure games) much,” Schaukowitch said.
The Warriors made several glaring errors in the first two innings that not only cost them a chance at scoring, but gave Priory a 2-0 lead. After South City starting pitcher Emilio Oseguera retired the Panthers in order on nine pitches, the Warriors led off the first with Martin Chen drawing a walk. After a flyout out, Oseguera came to the plate and hit a fly ball down the left-field line.
The Priory left fielder was playing well off the line and had to make a long run, with the ball landing fair.
But the South City base runners got confused, with Oseguera, who was credited with a single, being thrown out at first after not hustling back to the bag.
Instead of runners at first and second and one out, the Warriors had a runner at second and two outs, with Priory starter Kai Park getting a flyout to end the inning.
In the top of the second, the Panthers took advantage of some shaky defense. Hudson Karnes and Matt Lee led off the inning with back-to-back singles and the bases were loaded a batter later when the Warriors misplayed an Owen Lee sacrifice bunt.
Priory scored its first run when Harrison Kim’s grounder to third was booted. The Panthers second came when Jai Georedette flew out to right field. Lee, who was at third, bluffed going home, but the back runner, Kim, thought he was going. Kim got caught in a rundown, with Lee scoring before Kim was tagged out to end the inning.
South City got a run back in the bottom of the second on an RBI double from No. 9 hitter Gabe Martin, who went 3 for 3 with three runs driven in.
In the third, the Warriors took the lead for good as Priory’s unfamiliarity with the swirling South City wind cost them.
But the rally was instantly energized when cleanup hitter Vin Bernal laced a triple down the right field line to lead off the inning. Oseguera followed and hit a nubber in front of the plate and was safe when the throw pulled the second baseman off the first base bag.
After a strikeout, Mason Quintanilla hit an RBI single to left to tie the score at 2-all. Owen Keith followed and hit a fly ball to center that the centerfielder couldn’t handle for an error, with Oseguera scoring on the play.
After a second Park strikeout, he hit Chris Govea with a pitch to load the bases and Martin drove in a pair with a double to center that saw the Priory centerfielder take a step in before realizing his mistake and charged back, only to have the ball go over his head, giving the Warriors a 5-2 lead.
Priory closed to 5-4 with two runs in the top of the fourth, as Karnes doubled, went to third on a Matt Lee infield hit and scored on a balk. A Kim groundout to third drove in Matt Lee to cut the Panthers’ deficit to a run.
South City, however, scored an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth as Keith singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored when the throw got past the third baseman to put the Warriors up 6-4.
Oseguera then took care of the rest. He finished off his complete-game effort by retiring the final six batters in a row.
“My first three years, we were mediocre,” said Chen, South City senior captain, who was involved in a scary incident in the bottom of the fifth when he was hit on the left ear flap by a pitch. “We came here wanting to win. We knew we had the team to get this far.”
No. 1 Valley Christian 4, No. 2 Serra 3
After sharing the WCAL title, the Warriors captured the WCAL tournament championship in San Jose.
Serra (22-6) led 2-0 after scoring twice in the top of the third inning, but Valley Christian (26-4) took the lead for good with a four-run fourth.
The Padres closed to 4-3 with a run in the top of the seventh, but the Warriors would snuf out the rally.
Jake Downing doubled, homered and drove in three runs to pace the offense for Serra. Sam Kretsch was saddled with the loss, giving up four runs on just four hits.
Both teams will now await their seeding for the Central Coast Section tournament that begins next weekend.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to show it was South City's Owen Keith who hit a fly ball that was misplayed by the centerfielder.