The Patterson High baseball team kept its playoff hopes alive Friday, squeaking out an important 1-0 win over the visiting Warriors of Orestimba.
The Tigers still have an outsider’s chance at sneaking into the postseason, but it is going to take a string of victories to get them there.
The team has been in this predicament before. Last season’s squad pieced together an eight-game winning streak to creep into the Western Athletic Conference playoffs after an uninspired 3-5 start.
This year’s Tigers now stand at 3-4 in WAC play.
“We’ve seen everybody at least once by now,” Patterson coach Benji Lozano said. “Everybody is beatable. It’s obviously going to take some better baseball. We just need to keep working and take it one game at a time.”
The Tigers leaned on starting pitcher David Gonsalves on Friday.
Gonsalves went the distance for Patterson, pitching seven shutout innings, at one point retiring seven Orestimba batters in a row.
“That’s probably about as good of a job on the mound as I’ve seen from him all year,” Lozano said. “He got ahead of the batters, and his curveball was really working. Basically, it was (Gonsalves) that kept us in the game long enough for us to finally score a run.”
Patterson’s offense struggled to produce behind Gonsalves’ solid outing on the mound, relying on a last-inning rally to get the job done against Orestimba.
Patterson’s Jake Saavedra led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a walk. Teammate Anthony Sanchez’s sacrifice bunt sent Saavedra, who later hustled to third on a passed ball, over to second base.
The table was set for established junior slugger Daniel Reza.
The Warriors wanted no part of Reza, however, opting to intentionally walk the left-handed batter in an attempt to set up a possible inning-ending double play.
Then senior Daniel Kifle stepped up to the plate.
“When I saw (Orestimba) talking, I knew that they were planning on walking Reza (to get to me),” Kifle said. “I had popped out in my last at-bat, so they figured that I couldn’t hit.
“Situations like that help to build my confidence. They hadn’t seen what I could do.”
Kifle wasted little time in the batter’s box, driving the first pitch he saw deep into the right-center field gap, plating Saavedra and winning the game for his team.
“The top of our lineup — including myself — has not been executing with runners on base,” Kifle said. “I had to go up there strong, put (the ball) in the air, and that’s what I did.”
The Tigers have suffered all four of their defeats by a one-run margin, a telltale sign that it’s the team’s offensive struggles that have prevented Patterson from moving forward and possibly even separating from the rest of the pack.
“We know that we are going to have to score some runs if we want to compete,” Lozano said. Our pitching has looked good. It’s now the offense’s time to come through for us.”
Kifle agreed with his coach’s assessment of the team.
“We are trying to put something together so that we can go out strong,” Kifle said. “We are building a stronger mentality to put out on the field from here on out.”
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