Sakata hits grand slam in Castaic playoff win 

Castaic infielder Joji Sakata (27) makes it to second base during a Foothill League game against Saugus at Saugus High School on Friday, April 21, 2023. Castaic won 4-2. Chris Torres/The Signal

Castaic Coyotes baseball advanced to the second round of the CIF Division 6 playoffs after a 6-0 win over the hosting Oxford Academy Patriots.  

The Coyotes exploded in the fifth inning, where they scored all six of the runs, with four coming home off the bat of senior Joji Sakata. 

Jacob Bond sparked the rally by getting on base a few plays before Sakata stepped up to the plate with a 1-0 lead and the bases loaded. 

“I knew we needed to get some insurance runs,” Sakata said in a phone interview. “The guy was a big junk pitcher so I was sitting on an off-speed pitch. He left it over the plate so I was able to take advantage of it. It felt super good hitting that homer because I’ve always dreamed of moments like that.” 

Sakata finished the day 2-for-3 while third baseman Aaron Gonzalez again led the team with three hits. 

Castaic pitcher Tyler Hawn kept the Patriots (8-21) scoreless throughout the game. Hawn pitched a complete-game shutout, finishing the day with five hits, five strikeouts and no walks. 

Hawn and fellow pitcher Kyler Fredue have showcased strong performances on the mound, with both adding offense at the plate. 

Freude finished Saturday’s contest 1-for-3 while Hawn drew two walks. Infielders David Cailatto and Anthony Luna also added two hits apiece for the Coyotes. 

It took some time for Castaic’s bats to adjust to Oxford pitcher Carter Senglaub, but the Coyotes (20-7-1) managed to chase the pitcher off the mound after the fifth-inning surge. Sophomore Ethan Loya entered in relief for the Pats and managed to tame the wild Coyote bats. 

However, Oxford couldn’t get any base runners past second base with Hawn on the mound. 

“I’m super confident in my team moving on,” Sakata said. “Our pitchers Tyler Hawn and Kyler Freude are able to keep hitters off balance. As well as our offense, everyone knows their part in this team and everyone plays their part super well, which brings a bunch of chemistry to Castaic.” 

The Coyotes will now move on to the second round of the CIF Division 6 playoffs. Castaic will have to wait another round to officially open up at home after last week’s wild-card game was relocated to Saugus. The team will travel to Lancaster for a road matchup with the Eagles (14-9). 

Castaic heads out to its second straight road playoff game, and third away from home on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. 

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