Castaic High School Coyotes baseball will continue its first-ever playoff run in the CIF Finals.
The Coyotes officially punched their ticket on Tuesday after a 6-1 win over the top-ranked Bloomington Bruins.
Castaic is just in its second year of varsity and first year with seniors, but is on the cusp of adding some hardware to the young school’s trophy case, if it even has one yet.
The Coyotes have battled throughout the playoffs and on Tuesday were yet again the team that refused to stop hitting and go away.
Castaic scored in nearly every inning and was patient against Bruins starter Ricardo Sanchez. The Bloomington ace walked three Coyotes to start the game and was pulled after throwing just two strikes in that span. The team posted just one run in the inning where it had the bases loaded with no outs but Castaic set the tone for the rest of the game.
Coyotes ace Kyler Freude kept the Bruins’ bats cool and allowed his opponents just one run in the third inning. Freude also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth when he forced a flyout to center fielder Brody Lusk.
“It feels amazing,” Freude said. “Everything worked out for me getting the punch shots to help my team get back in the dugout. They’re my boys back there, especially Brody Lusk making those catches out there in the outfield. Never a doubt with him.”
Freude spent six innings on the mound and allowed five hits, one walk and one run while striking out nine Bruins. The pitcher also delivered at the plate, where he and teammate Aaron Gonzalez led all players with a game-high two hits.
Castaic was just inches away from its third postseason home run but junior Tyler Hawn still had one of the top plays of the day. Hawn launched to deep left field and it bounced off the wall to score two runs.
Five Coyotes got on base twice as the team worked through four different Bruins pitchers, even forcing Bloomington junior Andrew Martin back onto the mound later in the game after he was pulled and moved to third base.
Gonzalez stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded for the second time in the sixth after right fielder Joji Sakata was intentionally walked. Gonzalez brought in the sixth run of the day by hitting a sacrifice fly that brought home second baseman David Cailotto.
Cailotto finished 1-for-2 with an RBI.
Castaic pitcher Diego Spross entered to close in the seventh and didn’t give Bloomington much. Spross allowed one hit but fanned two, including the game-clinching strikeout to send the Coyotes to the CIF championship game.
“This is big for our program and for the community,” said Coyotes coach Darrel Davis. “I’m just so proud of these boys. Kyler pitched his butt off today. The boys hit the ball. They did what we do and we executed well today. And we just knocked off the No. 1 seed. I’m just so happy.”
The Coyotes are the last team standing in the area and were the only wild-card team in Divisions 1-6 to get out of the second round.
“If you told me in September, we were going to be the last team standing and we were going to be in the finals, I don’t know if I’d believe that or not,” Davis added. “But I have confidence in these boys and they played exactly the way we expected them to. They bought into the program.”
Castaic has had a wild ride but now everything will come down to Saturday in Long Beach. The CIF will host its baseball championship games at Blair Field at Long Beach State University.
The Coyotes will face the Hesperia Christian Patriots for the Division 6 crown. The Patriots are the Cross Valley League champs and winners of 11 straight games.
“Right now, we’re staying humble,” Gonzalez said. “We’re just going to go how we want to go but right now we look good and feel good. We just have to practice hard and I feel like we’ll be fine.”
Castaic heads to Blair Field to take on the Patriots on Friday at 4 p.m.
“We’re hoping to take it home,” Freude said. “We’re ready to get this next one.”