Castaic Coyotes baseball won the school’s first playoff game Wednesday in a wild-card matchup with the Excelsior Charter Eagles.
The Coyotes originally were scheduled to have their first postseason matchup at home, but a broken sprinkler delayed the start of the game, then led officials to move the game to Saugus High.
Castaic has fought all year and shown it can win high-scoring games, as well tight and ugly ones. The Coyotes grinded out a 3-2 win in the latter category, with most of the scoring the result of a sloppy fifth inning by the Eagles.
Coyotes second baseman David Cailotto hit a fly ball to shallow center-right into no man’s land. The ball dropped as three Eagles collided, scoring base runner Kyler Freude. Castaic’s Jacob Bond then hit the go-ahead RBI to score Cailotto after his single dropped just in between two Excelsior outfielders.
Freude returned to the mound feeling the team’s momentum and retired eight of the last nine batters he faced.
“I was pretty amped,” Freude said. “I was nervous, had some nerves going through me in the first inning, but I calmed them down and got to what I know best. I just tried to go effortless.”
Freude went 6.1 innings, allowing two runs while fanning five Eagles. Sophomore James Lafferty notched the save and recorded the final two outs, ending the game on a lineout to Castaic third baseman Aaron Gonzalez.
“We were super excited,” Freude said. “It’s obviously a big win, and we’ve got more to come. I’m really proud of my defense today. They really helped me out with amazing diving plays and catches. We had some key hits, which was good and I’m just excited for the next one.”
A 90-minute delay before the start of the game didn’t stop the Coyote defense from making some stellar plays.
Freude charged from the mound to grab a short pop fly just before shortstop Ethan Luna made a critical diving catch in the fourth inning. Freude also added a sneaky pickoff throw to first where the Coyotes were able to force a rundown of Eagles freshman Tyler Oerman.
Castaic didn’t trail for long in the game and had an answer for every Excelsior run. Eagles sophomore Travis Sorenson opened up the scoring with an RBI single to score Cameron Cole, to go up 1-0 in the top of the second. Freude answered with a sac fly in the next frame to tie the score at 1-1.
Sorenson led all batters with a two-hit day. Freude, Bond, Gonzalez, Matt Airhart and Tyler Hawn all registered hits for the Coyotes.
Eagles starting pitcher Carter Oermann took the loss but gave the Coyotes trouble throughout the day. The 6-foot, 3-inch righty pitched a full six innings, allowed just five hits with one walk. The pitcher was a little tougher than Castaic coach Darrell Davis was expecting but the skipper was proud of his team’s fight after a wild afternoon.
“It’s been a crazy day,” Davis said. “We didn’t expect issues, we thought we’d be on our field ready to roll but the baseball gods had something different for us. We’re very excited for these boys. We’re excited for our team, our community, our parents, and extremely proud of these boys. We fought. That’s a good team over there. They played us very tough.”
Castaic now hits the road again to face the Oxford Academy Patriots (8-20) in Cypress.
The Coyotes must now win again for another chance to officially open up postseason play at home but will focus on the task ahead, at least one road game with the Patriots.
“We told each other that we had an opportunity to do something special,” Davis said. “These boys have worked hard. They’ve worked hard ever since September. So again, I’m extremely proud of them. We’ve just gotta keep going. Hopefully we can get our field situation taken care of and hopefully we can come back here next week and play a game. But we’re going to take it one game at a time and give it all we’ve got on Friday in Cyprus.
Castaic heads to Cypress to face Oxford on Friday at 3:15 p.m.