Moore League baseball being decided by slim margins at Blair Field is a Long Beach tradition unlike any other. Once again in the first game of a doubleheader on Monday, Millikan used a stellar pitching performance and one clutch hit to beat Wilson 1-0 and stay in first place.
“That’s a classic Moore League thriller,” Millikan coach Ron Keester said. “These games seem to always come down to one hit. The ball happened to bounce our way today.”
The Rams (15-6, 6-0) got the only RBI of the game from junior Matt Bakke in the sixth inning while senior Max Pappas pitched six scoreless innings for the win. He gave up three hits and four walks while striking out five. Wilson (10-8, 4-2) stranded six runners in scoring position. Millikan junior Kelly Hawkshaw struck out two in a scoreless seventh for his second save in five days.
“Actually I never really hit the groove today,” Pappas said. The right-hander picked up his fifth win and lowered his ERA to 1.98. He’s given up one unearned run in his two league starts against Wilson and Lakewood.
“I just tried to throw strikes and keep my defense in the game,” he said. “I know we put in the work (on defense) everyday.”
“He can throw three pitches for strikes, but today he didn’t have the breaking ball so he was able to find his change-up,” Keester said.
Wilson also got another great start from Zach Pettway. The senior ace gave up the one run on three hits and four walks. Pettway struck out eight. Jerry Granillo, Max Williford, Alex Seguine and Pettway all reached base twice.
Millikan shortstop Diego Alarcon sparked the game-winning rally by drawing a one-out walk in the sixth. Fellow senior Andrew Talley drew another walk to move Alarcon into scoring position, and after a strikeout, Bakke singled off the second baseman’s glove to score Alarcon. Talley was thrown out in a rundown.
“I can feel it, this is our year,” Alarcon said of the Rams’ fortune this season. “I’ve been doing this for three and a half years. That’s too long not to be clutch.”
Pettway drew a walk of his own to leadoff the bottom of the sixth, and pinch runner Miguel Martinez stole second with one out. However, Alarcon charged a ground ball from the next batter and threw Martinez out at third base.
Wilson is filing an official protest of the game after an incident between the sixth-inning walks to Alarcon and Talley. After a coaches meeting, Alarcon went to second base instead of returning to first. Wilson waited for the ball to be put back into play and alerted the umpire. Alarcon was issued a warning and returned to first. Two pitches later, Talley walked, and five pitches after that Alarcon scored. Wilson and coach Andy Hall are protesting the officials ruling of an unsportmanlike rules violation.
“That’s (Millikan’s) best player and they don’t need to do that,” Hall said. “The umpire didn’t know how to deal with it. CIF says it’s about integrity and doing the right thing. Well, let’s do the right thing.”
Millikan will host Cabrillo on Wednesday while Wilson will host Jordan.