Torrey Pines takes a close one from Rancho Bernardo

Tight games the norm in North County Coastal League baseball games


Two games. Two seventh-inning baseball wins for Torrey Pines over Rancho Bernardo.

That’s how it goes in the ultra-competitive North County Coastal League, a group that includes No. 4-ranked RB, No. 6 Torrey Pines, No. 2 San Marcos and No. 5 La Costa Canyon, as well as Carlsbad and Poway.

“Yes, that’s the way this league is going to go,” said Torrey Pines coach Tommy Simis after his Falcons scored on a seventh-inning wild pitch, then hung on in the bottom of the inning to edge Rancho Bernardo 2-1.

“Every pitch. Every out is huge. So to be 2-0 with two wins over RB is special.”

The Falcons, who won Wednesday on Junior Barajas’ base hit with two out in the bottom of the seventh, improved to 9-2, 2-0. Rancho Bernardo is now 7-4, 0-2.

“Torrey Pines is a lot like us,” said RB coach Jeff Baumback, “They pitch tough, throw strikes, make plays. We’re both very competitive. Every game in the league will be like this. We’re 0-2, but the league race is far from over.”

Both teams got first-inning home runs — Thomas Maher to start the game for the Falcons — and Kevin Takeuchi — his fourth of the season — for RB.

Then the game turned into a pitchers’ duel.

Oklahoma State-bound Erik Van Valkenberg went six innings, allowed four hits and struck out seven, giving him 35 strikeouts in 22 innings.

Brady Dockan went the first three innings for RB before freshman Mason Garris, pitching in his first varsity game, came on and pitched like a seasoned vet.

Finally in the top of the seventh, he cracked, walking leadoff man Burke Stratton.

Liam Kelly beat out a bunt, putting runners on first and second.

Garris then got a double-play ball and appeared to be out of the inning before spiking a curve, allowing Stratton to score.

“I’m looking for something I can score on,” Stratton said. “I saw it was a breaking ball, saw it kick left, knew the catcher couldn’t block it and took off.

“We played two close games, tough games with RB, so I had to get home somehow.”

Chase Blease came in to close for Torrey Pines. He got the first hitter on a fly ball.

Zach Derham reached on an error and Ivan Matos sacrificed him to second. Ben Lyons singled to shortstop with Maher making a game-saving stop, holding Derham at third.

Simis than called on left fielder Peyton Rodgers to end the game with Jehee Lee, who is hitting .347, the batter.

Rodgers finally got Lee on a curveball for the final out.

“I’d warmed up a little between innings, so I wasn’t coming in completely cold,” Rodgers said. “Actually, I like playing in the field, then coming in to pitch.

“I’d thrown the hitter a couple of fastballs, and we had him set up for a breaking ball. If I spike it, they tie the score, but with Junior Barajas behind the dish, I have to trust he’ll block it.”

The three-game league series concludes Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Torrey Pines.

“I doubt that game will be much different than the last two,” Simis said.