By Steve Breazeale
San Clemente sophomore catcher Lucas Herbert broke his hand in late March, which sidelined the Tritons power hitter for several weeks. In his seventh game back from injury against Dana Hills on May 1, the hand showed no signs of slowing Herbert down as he took the first pitch he saw in extra innings deep to left center field and over the fence to give his team a 2-1 win.
Herbert’s eighth inning blast helped bolster the Tritons (21-6, 7-2 league) first-place league record and put the pressure on the Dolphins (14-14, 3-8) to respond in the bottom half of the inning.
After Dana Hills lead off man CJ Angle worked a walk to start the final frame, San Clemente reliever Will Tribucher got the final two outs to seal the win for teammate Cody Maples, who pitched seven innings for the third consecutive time in as many starts.
“(Maples) was sick today and it was a question of whether or not he was going to start,” San Clemente head coach Dave Gellatly said. “It was a really gutsy effort from him to go out there and throw seven strong innings.”
Maples and the Tritons were up against Dana Hills standout senior pitcher Blake Taylor, who was lifted after the fifth inning with the score tied at 0-0. Taylor allowed only three hits and one walk while stricking out seven in his no-decision.
The Tritons broke the 0-0 tie in the top of the seventh when Shane Elias-Calles ripped a ball into the gap for a one-out double. He then tried to steal third base, drawing an errant throw from the Dolphins catcher that sailed into the outfield. Elias-Calles sprinted to home plate and beat the throw, putting the Tritons up 1-0.
Playing in front of their home crowd and on senior night, Dolphins senior Jake Williams had a timely two-out RBI double with a runner on second base to plate the tying run.
Given the back and forth nature of the game and the strong pitching performances, the game had all the makings of another gritty Sea View League game. But Herbert had other plans and pounced on the first offering he saw in extras.
“I’ve been seeing the ball well so I was just trying to get something straight,” Herbert said. “He left one up and I hit it…We play (Dana Hills) on Friday, hopefully we can get the sweep and take it one game at a time.”