CARLSBAD Carlsbad High coach Chris Greene had hoped to hold staff ace Slater Lee back until Thursday’s Classic Division semifinals of the Lions Baseball Tournament.
In need of a win Wednesday to even be considered for a berth in the semis, Greene was forced to start Lee against Montgomery, and the senior right-hander delivered.
Lee, who is slated to pitch at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo next season, went the distance, allowed just four hits, walked one, struck out nine and didn’t allow an earned run in beating the Aztecs 3-2.
The win thrust Carlsbad into the 12:30 p.m. semifinal against Madison at Cal State San Marcos.
“I put in a lot of offseason work, and it’s paying off,” said Lee, who improved to 4-0. “I had good movement on my fastball but struggled a little with location.
“I find these one-run games, especially against a good team like Montgomery, a challenge. I was really pretty focused.”
Lee retired the last nine hitters after Montgomery (10-2) scored an unearned run in the fifth and had a runner on second with no outs.
“An error cost us one run, a dropped throw cost us another,” said Montgomery coach Manny Hermosillo. “We didn’t execute on the bases and didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. You have got to take advantage of your chances against a good team.
“Both pitchers were good, but their guy was lights out.”
Carlsbad (9-2) scored three unearned runs, one when the Aztecs botched a double-steal attempt.
The Lancers scored two more unearned runs in the fifth when Chris Lutz doubled, the second of his two hits, and scored on a throwing error. Two ground-ball outs and a walk pushed across what proved to be the winning run.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Montgomery, whose only previous loss was 2-1 to No. 6-ranked La Jolla Country Day.
Last week, Hermosillo won the 600th game of his distinguished career.
“That number means a lot,” Hermosillo said. “It puts me in the company of the great coaches I’ve followed, Dick Serrano, Dennis Pugh, John Baumgarten, Steve Vickery — who helped so much — and of course Sam Blalock.
“It’s an honor to be mentioned with that group.”