Saugus senior Anthony Ramirez triumphantly jogs home after hitting a come-from-behind three-run walk-off home run in extra innings in a playoff matchup with Downey at Saugus High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Walk-off hit gets Saugus wild-card win over Downey

Saugus baseball beat Downey 3-2 in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 wild-card game at Saugus High School on Tuesday thanks to a walk-off home run from Anthony Ramirez.

With two outs and two runners on base, Saugus baseball coach Carl Grissom pulled Anthony Ramirez aside to talk with him before his upcoming at-bat.

“I’m like, ‘You get a strike once you get a pitch, try to get it out of here,’” Grissom told Ramirez as he put his arm around him. “‘Look for a ball you can drive and get it out of here.’”

And so Ramirez did just that. After two strikes, he smacked the ball hard and sent it soaring over the left field fence to score three runs to beat Downey 3-2 in a wild-card game in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs on Tuesday at Saugus High School.

Saugus celebrates a three-run walk-off home run by Anthony Ramirez in a playoff matchup with Downey at Saugus High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“The previous pitch was a curveball and I believe it wasn’t a strike, but the next pitch I was just looking for a ball to put in play,” Ramirez said. “Give your team a chance and luckily I came up big.”

Ramirez’s hit drove in Hayden Trowbridge, who hit a single and Tony Jacob, who was walked to get on base previously.

Downey (14-12-1) scored twice in the top of the eighth inning. Xander Orozco laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Brandon Reyes, then David Canales hit a single to score Daniel Padilla.

The win was a momentous one for the Centurions (15-11-1), who are making their first playoff appearance since 2015 after finishing the Foothill League season in third place.

“We’re just trying to prove to everyone that didn’t believe we can do it,” Ramirez said. “And just by this, we’re proving little by little and that’s all that matters.”

Saugus pitcher Bobby Garcia and Downey pitcher Sebastian Diaz battled throughout the game. Across 7 2/3 innings, Garcia struck out four batters while only allowing three hits.

“Bobby’s an outstanding pitcher,” Ramirez said. “He’s done his job all season, he did his job. Just the little things messed us up for a little bit but you can see when we come together as a team, we win.”

Garcia was backed by a solid defense that executed routine plays and didn’t shy from big moments.

The Centurions turned a double play in the second inning to get runners at second and third out to escape the inning. Later, in the sixth, center fielder Nolan Kutcher made the throw to catcher Colton Fitzgerald to tag a Viking runner out at home.

Saugus sophomore Colton Fitzgerald tags out the go-ahead run at the plate in a Playoff matchup with Downey at Saugus High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“That’s huge,” Grissom said of Kutcher’s play. “Just little things. You don’t think about it until after the fact, that play here, that play there, changes the game. It’s good.”

Saugus will move on to the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs on Thursday. The Cents will play at Paraclete at 3:15 p.m.

After seven scoreless innings, Ramirez, who had struck out in his previous two at-bats, cracked a home run over the left-field fence on a 2-1 count with two outs.

“The previous pitch was a curveball and I believe it wasn’t a strike, but the next pitch I was just  looking for a ball to put in play,” Ramirez said. “Give your team a chance and luckily I came up big.”

Ramirez’s hit drove in Hayden Trowbridge, who hit a single and Tony Jacob, who was walked to get on base.

Saugus coach Carl Grissom embraces junior Hayden Trowbridge following a come-from-behind walk-off playoff victory over Downey at Saugus High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Downey scored twice in the top of the eighth inning. Xander Orozco laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Brandon Reyes, then David Canales hit a single to score Daniel Padilla.

Saugus, which is in its first playoff appearance in five years, will move on to the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs on Thursday. The Cents will play at Paraclete at 3:15 p.m.

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