Castaic Coyotes baseball rode a late surge to pull away from the Fillmore Flashes and punch its ticket to the CIF SoCal Regional Finals.
The Coyotes won the home semifinals matchup 9-1, with five runs coming in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Fillmore ace Jathan Magana nearly swung the momentum of the game after finding himself in a bases-loaded jam with no outs. Magana struck out back-to-back Coyote batters and forced a high pop fly to shallow right field and it looked like Fillmore could remain in striking distance.
However, the ball dropped in between three Flashes, scoring two Castaic runs.
Coyotes pitcher Tyler Hawn fired off his third hit of the day in the next at-bat, a few plays before a wild pitch brought him home to score the final run of the regional semifinal.
Hawn had an all-around masterful day on the diamond. The junior threw a complete game in which he allowed one run and four hits with no walks while holding the top four Flashes in the order hitless.
“These boys are literally my brothers out here and to be able to make the state finals with them, and make even more history, it’s just unbelievable,” Hawn said. “This team’s special. We’ve been saying it for years and I’m glad that we finally get to show it to everybody.”
The pitcher led the offense alongside catcher Jack Teoli, as each tallied up three hits for Castaic. Teoli mainly plays behind the plate when Hawn throws and has seen his swing improve as of late.
“Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of strikes,” Teoli said. “So, I’ve been getting really down in the count early. So all week long, I’ve really just been trying to swing at everything, just so that I can try and find what I can reach and what I can’t reach.”
Castaic scored in five of six innings at the plate. Teoli brought in senior Kyler Freude for the third run of the day on the catcher’s first of two doubles.
Senior Jacob Bond had a pair of RBI on the day and finished the game 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly.
Both teams also received solid defensive plays around the yard. Magana was able to pick off two Coyote base runners with some crafty moves on the mound.
Magana also received help from center fielder Mathew Magana and third baseman Jacob Munoz. Mathew had a nice catch on the move in center field while Munoz handled a bad hop with ease at third to force the outs.
Castaic answered as Hawn was also able to pick off a Fillmore base runner while Freude also made a nice sprinting catch in center field.
“I’m proud of my boys,” Hawn said. “They played spectacular defense behind me today. Kyler played amazing in center field again. It was great to pitch and one last time with my seniors and I’m just so happy to get that win and go to the state finals.”
The Flash pitcher came through at the plate and delivered Fillmore’s one run the day off an RBI double.
Hawn settled in after giving up the run and retired nine of his final 10 batters to seal the deal. The junior showed little fatigue pitching seven innings in his fifth month of the season and even appeared to throw a little harder to close out Fillmore.
“Honestly, I don’t know what it was today,” Hawn said. “It might have been that bacon I ate this morning but I had a little extra on my fastball today.”
Hawn and Freude have been dynamic on the mound this postseason. Freude has 17 strikeouts in his last three games while Hawn has given up two earned runs in four postseason starts.
“Honestly, (Hawn) makes it pretty easy for me back there so I can’t complain,” Teoli said. “He’s on fire. I don’t even try to mess with it at all.”
The Coyotes will now move on to Saturday, when they will face the winner of the Ganesha Giants and Bloomington Bruins.
Castaic defeated Bloomington 6-1 in the CIF Division 6 semifinals matchup.
“I’m just looking forward to coming out here and suiting up with them one more time,” Hawn said. “I want to play a competitive game, but mainly we want to win. I want to celebrate with them one more time. That way, when I look them in the eyes and say goodbye for the final time, It’ll be on a good note.”