In what was mathematically the biggest game of the 2019 season thus far for San Pedro High baseball, it took a four-run deficit going into the bottom of the seventh inning to provide the first pivotal test for the surging Pirates, and they went the extra mile to pass this test with flying colors.
A dramatic four-run surge in their last chance to go in the bottom of the seventh inning would extend the game... into the thirteenth inning,
With one out, and the count 1-and-2, sophomore third baseman Dylan Kordic would add yet another magical walk-off moment for the Pirates, as he lofted a single to left-center field against a pulled in outfield, scoring junior 2B/P Josh Duarte for the game-winning run, and San Pedro somehow wins 7-6 over Banning of Wilmington on Thursday to remain undefeated in Marine League competition.
On what is now the third come-from-behind home win, and third walk-off victory for the Pirates (16-1 overall, 4-0 league), they have now won twelve straight games, always finding a way to do the impossible while pulling out victories that seem improbable.
When asked about the victory, San Pedro baseball coach Steve Tedesco was short but sweet: "That was special."
It was even doubly special for Kordic, who can say he was able to ''walk it off" on his 16th birthday.
San Pedro would take a 2-1 lead on an RBI-sacrifice fly by junior catcher Waldie Perez in the second inning, but Banning (7-8, 2-2) would get a pinch-hit three-run double in the fourth inning to go up 4-2 and chase starting senior pitcher Anthony Scognamillo at inning's end, then score two more runs in the fifth inning to put the Pirates in a quandary.
Even with that deficit staring them in the face, the Pirates never wavered and remained calm.
The breaks would suddenly fall their way in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Junior first baseman Travis Connelly (the winning pitcher in San Pedro's 4-2 win at Banning Tuesday) led off with a scorching double to left on a full count, then advanced to third as a high pop up in shallow right field hit by junior designated hitter Alex Pacheco dropped in for a bloop single. Then Perez and sophomore pinch-hitter Mikey Brucelas were both hit by pitches to force Connelly in to cut the Pilots' lead to 6-3.
A ground ball hit by sophomore shortstop Cain Lusic forced in another run, plating junior pitcher Zach Tyszkiewicz. With two outs, Lusic would steal second to put two runners in scoring position, then Duarte's ground ball on a high chopper to shortstop was thrown away, scoring both Lusic and junior pinch-runner Devin Acuna to knot the score at 6.
Tyszkiewicz, who came in relief of both Scognamillo and then junior left-hander Armando Arvizo in the top of the fifth inning with one out, pitched a solid 6 2/3 scoreless innings to keep Banning at bay, also aided by two inning-ending double plays in the eighth and tenth innings. Then it was Duarte who pitched two more scoreless innings with three strikeouts in the twelfth and thirteenth innings combined to keep San Pedro in the game.
Duarte would lead off the bottom of the thirteenth by reaching on another Banning error, then advanced to second base on sophomore right fielder Dom Porter's sacrifice bunt. With Kordic now up, on an 0-and-2 pitch, Duarte would steal third base on a pitch that just missed outside.
Kordic would conclude matters on the next pitch with his single to drive home Duarte, and he would get both mobbed by his fellow Pirate teammates plus a "Happy Birthday To You" serenade by the San Pedro crowd.
In all, Duarte would earn the win on the mound with his two scoreless innings of relief for San Pedro, who will next host Taft of Woodland Hills on Saturday, 11 am in a San Fernando Tiger Classic game, and will next have a two-game series with Marine League newcomer Rancho Dominguez Prep next week before Spring Break.