Castaic Coyotes baseball won its sixth straight game on Friday behind a complete-game victory from junior pitcher Tyler Hawn.
The Coyotes beat the hosting Saugus Centurions 4-2, to complete the season sweep.
Hawn allowed five hits, two runs and struck out 10 Centurions on the day. Saugus jumped on the pitcher early, bringing in one run in the first inning, but Hawn shook it off and caught fire late, retiring 13 of his 14 final opponents.
“I knew they were going to be a competitive team. Saugus is always competitive,” Hawn said. “My main goal today was just to come out and execute my pitches. In the pregame, I made some really big adjustments to my windup that helped me today. I had some extra velocity on my fastball. My pitches were breaking more and it resulted in me getting more Ks, so that was huge.”
Hawn also led the offense as he and right fielder Brody Lusk led the Coyotes with two-hit days.
Castaic only scored in one inning, but it was just enough to get the win. An RBI single from Joji Sakata off Saugus pitcher Anthony Gonzales tied the score at 1-1. Castaic kept finding ways to get on base and chased Gonzalez off early.
Senior Justin Rankin entered in relief and retired his first batter, but Aaron Gonzalez, who was on third, reached home on the groundout to first.
Castaic capped off the inning with an RBI single from catcher Jack Teoli to go up 4-1.
Rankin carried Saugus (5-20, 1-9) the rest of the way on both sides of the ball. The senior cut the deficit to two runs with an RBI hit in the third inning
Rankin escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning after forcing a groundout where Saugus turned a double play. The pitcher then kept his team within striking distance and retired his next nine opponents, but Saugus just couldn’t find any rhythm against Hawn at the plate.
Arizona commit Zach Plasschaert led Saugus, going 2-of-3 at the plate.
The Coyotes threatened to score in each of the first four innings but stranded eight base runners. Either way, Castaic coach Darrell Davis was proud to return to his alma mater and come up victorious yet again.
“I told them ‘just go play,’” Davis said. “We have nothing to lose now. Our goal was to get to the playoffs and we’re there. Now the goal is just keep playing baseball.”
The season hasn’t gone as planned at Saugus but even with no playoff implications on the line, the team will look to finish out strong this week in its season series with Canyon.
“It’s just been frustrating,” said Cents coach Carl Grissom. “We haven’t caught a break and it just seems like everything that could go wrong this year has gone wrong. For me it’s very difficult and I’m having a hard time with it. But I want to do whatever I can to never have to have this feeling again.”
Grissom hopes to get to work early on his 2024 squad in hopes of returning Saugus baseball to the top of the Foothill League.
“I’ll sit back and reevaluate how I do things,” Grissom said. “I take some of the blame in this, too. I’m the coach here and I have to be better. So, I plan on being better and hopefully the team follows and we have a better season next year.”
Castaic currently sits in third but with how tight the top of the Foothill League is, the Coyotes are still in play for a championship.
The Coyotes have already clinched a postseason berth in the program’s second year of varsity but will aim high in the final week with fellow league contender West Ranch.
“Last year we had a lot of tight games but we just couldn’t get over the hurdle,” Davis said. “We were almost there. I think what really helped us was fall ball and going down playing in Orange County and playing against some of the toughest teams down there. I think that kind of gave these boys a little bit of encouragement. I think that’s what really helped us a lot. So now we expect to get over the hurdle.”
Saugus and Castaic host their final regular season home games on Tuesday when the Cents welcome Canyon while the Coyotes will host the West Ranch Wildcats. Both games are slated for 3:30 p.m.
“We’re a special team,” Hawn said. “I’ve been playing with the team since I was a freshman. All these boys are like my brothers to me. So, to be able to make the playoffs with this team is really special, and I’m excited to see the damage that we can do in the playoffs.”