Vista — When your pitchers can hit, it’s a huge bonus.
Wednesday, in a game that would determine who would advance to the championship game of the North County Tournament, starting pitcher Brett Seeburger came up with two hits and third baseman/pitcher Austin Ott had the game-winning RBI as Vista edged Mission Hills 2-1 in eight innings.
The victory propels No. 2-ranked Vista (10-5) into Friday’s 6:30 p.m. title game at Escondido High against the winner of the other side of the bracket that will be determined Thursday.
Seeburger, who went the distance, allowing one unearned run on six hits with 10 strikeouts, singled home Vista’s first run, then singled in the eighth in the middle of the Panthers’ winning rally.
Ott, who made a nice defensive play to deny Nate Delaney a leadoff double in the top of the eighth, drove in the winning run with a bases-loaded, one-out single in the bottom of the inning.
“I love that situation,” Ott said. “There is nothing better than coming to bat with the game on the line.
“I wanted to make sure I got a pitch up in the zone so I could get the ball in the air. The first pitch was a curve. The second pitch was a change that was up a little. I stayed back, saw the ball well and got a big hit.”
And what about the defensive play in the eighth, when he went to the line, gobbled up Delaney’s smash and threw him out?
“I was playing back, guarding the line,” Ott said. “I pitched nine innings Monday, so I was hoping I didn’t have to make any tough throws.
“So as soon as I got the ball, I threw it. I didn’t want to take my time and have to gun it across the diamond.”
Seeburger and Roberto Johnson of Mission Hills (8-5) hooked up in a classic pitchers’ duel. Johnson allowed eight hits — three of those in the eighth — walked two (both intentionally) and struck out six.
“Neither pitcher deserved to lose,” said Mission Hills coach Ken Putnam.
Seeburger, who improved to 5-1 and dropped his ERA to 1.63, stranded a runner at second in the first inning and a runner at third in the fifth and sixth.
“There are a lot of good pitchers out there this year,” Seeburger said. “We’re playing a lot of close games.
“Hey, give some props to Roberto. He pitched really well. Pitching and defense keeps you in games.”
And clutch hits win them.