The Centurions hung on for a tough win against East Valley, 3-1, despite being down early Tuesday. The Centurions are now one step closer to the CIF Southern Section Division 3 baseball championship.
The Wildcats scored early in the first inning off a Laviel Pickett ground out. The Centurions quickly answered back with a game-tying RBI single by Michael de Santiago in the third and managed to keep the lead.
Connor Bates, the starting pitcher for the Centurions, lasted seven innings, striking out two batters with zero walks.
“I came into the game with the mindset of having no walks, getting my head right, going into the game throwing strikes and trying to keep the game close — make routine plays,” said Bates. “(Playing in the championship game) is something I’ve wanted to do my entire life. The emotions would be unreal. It would literally be like dreams turned into a reality for me.”
Jason Granado, the starting pitcher for the East Valley, allowed eight hits and three runs over six and two-thirds innings while also striking out seven batters.
Despite the strong effort from Granado and the Wildcats, the Centurions batting proved too much to handle. Dominic Cevallos, Colin Yeaman and de Santiago, all managed multiple hits. De Santiago led Saugus with three hits in four at bats. Jared Banash led the Wildcats, hitting two in three at bats.
“We’ve been doing the same thing, working hard during practice, focusing on the little things and minimizing mistakes,” said Saugus head coach Carl Grissom. “It’s been instilled since September. We’ve missed 80 games since Fall and haven’t had a chance to pick up a baseball since December. We came back and ramped up and started all over again.”
The Centurions held on to win the game and now have their eyes set on the bigger prize, the CIF championship, with three more wins needed.
“The kids have been resilient, keeping up with the process, this group has been unbelievable. When you have kids that dealt with so much, they don’t wanna back down to anything,” said Grissom. “We gotta take it one game at a time. We are happy to be here and we want to come out the next game with a strong effort.”
Saugus looks to continue their playoff run with a matchup against Millikan at Saugus on Friday at 3:15.