STOCKTON — Trailing by seven runs at one point Tuesday, fifth-seeded Sierra mounted a ferocious comeback in the seventh only to leave the bases loaded in a 10-8 loss to No. 8 Beyer of Modesto in semifinal action of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs at University of the Pacific’s Klein Family Field.
“We played well enough offensively to win,” Sierra coach Jack Thomson said. “But we stepped all over ourselves defensively and our kids know it and they feel bad about it because we did not give ourselves a chance to win on this stage. We just didn’t play catch.”
Jacob Frisk (2 for 2) came on in relief for the Timberwolves (18-10), throwing 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh.
“Jacob came in and did a good job,” Thomson said of Frisk. “He pitched for us a bit this year with two starts in league and he’s got some stuff, and he had his breaking ball for strikes.
“In high school, that’s tough to hit.”
Frisk kept the seventh-inning rally alive with a tenacious at-bat, falling behind in the count 1-2 before fouling off three pitches in a row and eventually singling to load the bases with two out. This brought Ben Polack to the hill for the Patriots (22-9), and the flamethrower ended the game with a three-pitch strikeout.
“That’s kind of indicative of our kids,” Thomson said of Frisk’s last at-bat. “We were down 10-3 and we could have thrown in the towel, but we didn’t and we kept battling.
“That says a lot for our character.”
Julian Cantu was hit by a pitch to lead off the Timberwolves seventh. Jacob Peterson reached on a fielder’s choice, getting Cantu to second on an error. Slyder Blythe singled to load the bases.
Hunter Frisk came up next and belted a two-RBI single. Following a double play, pinch-hitter Joseph Lomeli poked the first pitch he saw into right field, scoring Blythe to pull Sierra within 10-8.
Chase Sperbeck (3 for 4, double, three runs) and Jacob Frisk both singled to load the bases before Polack came in to end the game.
The error bug got to Beyer in the third inning. Cantu and Sperbeck reached on back-to-back infield errors to start the frame for the Timberwolves. Following a strikeout Jesse Ortiz-Martinez roped a 1-0 offering to deep center field for a triple, plating Cantu and Sperbeck to come within 5-3.
The two teams combined for 10 errors, five apiece.
“This was an unconventional game,” Patriots coach Dominic Duran said. “Runs were scored in ways that were not conventional. We both made a lot of errors and it was a sloppy game. Each team did not give up.”
Sierra had 14 hits to eight for Beyer.
“They put the pressure on us each and every inning,” Duran said. “But I tip my hat to my kids too because they did the same thing right back. That team is a great, well-coached team.
Despite their miscues, the Timberwolves had a pair of fielding gems. With two across in the Patriots second, two out and two on, shortstop Jesse Ortiz-Martinez (2 for 4, triple, four RBI) went airborne to snag a line drive that would have scored two runs, ending the Beyer rally.
Although the Patriots picked up two more runs in the fifth, it could have been more were it not for Sierra right fielder Jared Bagley who flew in to make a fully extended diving catch for the first out of the frame.
The Timberwolves tied the game in the bottom of the first at 1-1. Sperbeck led off with a double, easily stole third and came home on a sacrifice fly by Ortiz-Martinez.
Sierra added two more runs in the fifth. Sperbeck was hit by a pitch to start the inning, took third on a double by Ty Kiser and came home on a wild pitch that advanced Kiser to third. Ortiz-Martinez singled in Kiser to make the score 10-5.
As a result of the loss, the Timberwolves (18-10) face Christian Brothers of Sacramento on Thursday at Klein Family Field with the winner facing the Patriots on Monday at a site and time to be determined.