STOCKTON - To knock off the third-seeded St. Mary’s High baseball team in Tuesday’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I opener, No. 14 Chavez would have had to play near flawless ball for seven innings.
In short, the Titans fell short.
St. Mary’s capitalized off five Chavez errors and rode a 10-run second inning to a 15-0 rout in five innings at home. The Rams will host again at 4 p.m. Thursday, playing Davis.
Christian Almanza had a triple and four RBI for St. Mary’s (21-6-1), and fellow senior Dillon Tatum added a pair of hits, including a triple of his own, and two RBI. Tom Rover also drove in a pair for the Rams, as did Ryan Quijalvo.
St. Mary’s tagged Chavez starter Elijah Galindo for three runs in the first inning, two of which came after an error on a ground ball that would have ended the inning. The real damage, however, came an inning later.
Anthony Hernandez and Bobby Jackson drew consecutive walks to start the frame, and an error loaded the bags. A second error brought in a pair of runs, and Tatum hit a two-run triple. Four more hits - including Almanza’s three-bagger - followed, along with two more walks and a third error in that inning alone.
By the time the game reached the top of the third, St. Mary’s led 13-0.
“Nothing gets under a coach’s skin more than not making routine plays, and we didn’t make them,” Chavez coach Jimmy Lee said. “We’ve generally made them all year. We’re better than that. We should have competed better than that.”
St. Mary’s starter Chandler Sanguinetti was pulled before the third, and three Rams relievers finished off a one-hit shutout of the Titans. St. Mary’s tacked on two in the fourth, capping a stellar performance to begin the playoffs.
“We did what we had to do,” Almanza said. “Dominate on the field, make our plays, hit the ball well and find a way to win.”
The end of the road may not have been pretty for Chavez, but Lee said this was a group that made great strides from a year ago, when the Titans finished dead last in the San Joaquin Athletic Association.
“It was a joyful season, all in all,” Lee said. “They went from 2-13 to 12-3. That’s quite a turnaround, and it’s because of these kids.”
Meanwhile, St. Mary’s season is still alive. If the Rams can score in bunches like they did Tuesday, Tatum said there might not be much in their way.
“We just hit the ball. That’s all we really need to do,” Tatum said. “If our team hits the ball, I think we’re unstoppable.”
Contact reporter Nick Woodard at (209) 546-8272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@nwoodard25.