Joseph Lomeli was looking for an inside fastball.
The Sierra High senior right fielder was in a bases-loaded situation in a tie game Friday with one out in the ninth inning against visiting Central Catholic.
The Timberwolves won the earlier meeting, but trailed throughout the Valley Oak League rubber-match game, rallying with four runs in the sixth and seventh combined to force the extra frames.
“I know I had two strikes (on me),” said Lomeli, who found his pitch, driving the ball deep enough to center to score pinch-runner Maruicio Arnoldus.
The result was a hard-fought 8-7 victory.
“That was the first lead we took in the game,” said Sierra coach Travis Thomson, who was proud of the way his team’s perseverance finally paid off. “We just kept battling and battling.”
The Timberwolves (2-0 VOL, 10-3-1 overall) earned the sweep over the Raiders (1-3, 4-7) despite six errors and five hit batsmen.
Central Catholic jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, taking advantage of a throwing error and a balk and RBI singles by Travis Van Dyk and Mikey Duran.
Van Dyk drew a bases loaded walk in the second, plating Nicholas Bray to give the Raiders a 3-0 advantage.
Sierra got a run back in the bottom half of the frame thanks to Zion Bell’s lead-off triple to right. He scored on Lomeli’s sacrifice fly.
In the third, the Timberwolves tied the game up on Louis Aquila’s two-run double.
The Raiders made the most of three infield errors in the fifth coupled with a fielder’s choice RBI by starting pitcher Dalton Durosette and a run-scoring single by Matt Akulow for the 6-3 edge.
The Timberwolves staged a two-out rally in the sixth. Lomeli and Deshon Thomas reached base on a walk and error, respectively, with Tyler Kiser following with a two-run single to left center.
In the seventh, Central Catholic made it 7-5 on Connor Semone’s RBI single following a pair of hit batsmen.
Matt Dunham opened the bottom half of the inning by reach base on an error. Jesse Ortiz-Martinez then came through with a run-scoring triple. Bell, who relieved starting pitcher Slyder Blyth, tied the game at 7-7 on a single up the middle.
The Timberwolves had a pair of double plays in extra innings. The first occurred in the eighth with shortstop Ortiz-Martinez triggering the text book 6-4-3 double play.
In the ninth, centerfielder Dunham doubled off the runner at first, snagging the fly ball and hitting his cut-off Kiser, who delivered a strike to Bell at first.
Jake Frisk, who earned the win, had just come in relief of Bell, who moved back to first base.
“We talked about momentum change,” said Lomeli. “That (double play) did it for us.”
Ortiz-Martinez opened the bottom of the ninth with a walk. Julian Cantu then delivered a single to right, with the Raiders countering by intentionally walking Aquila to load the bases.
The strategy nearly paid off as Central Catholic got the force at home for the first out.
Arnoldus, who was running for Cantu, scored the walk-off run on Lomeli’s fly ball to the outfield.
It was a big win, according to Thomson.
“The only way to gain ground in the VOL is with a sweep,” he said.
Central Catholic 4, Sierra 3
Brendan Rapisura and Zach Fonseca each had an RBI single, and Jeremy Dalen added a run-scoring hit of his own in the loss for the Timberwolves.
Fonseca also hurled 4 2/3 innings, striking out five while yielding three runs on three hits.