CARLSBAD Rusty Huber was in the middle of everything Tuesday.
The lanky Mira Mesa High third baseman drove in a run and scored another in a three-run, sixth-inning Marauders rally. He had a key double in an eighth-inning rally and pitched two scoreless innings in relief as Mira Mesa rallied from three runs down to beat top-seeded Carlsbad 5-4 in eight innings in a San Diego Section Division I baseball semifinal, forcing an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. today at Carlsbad.
“Things just worked out in my favor,” Huber said. “When I came in to pitch my mindset was not to let them score. It was that simple.”
Huber, who was playing third, came on in relief of starter Trey Lomax with one on and no out in the seventh. Huber got a double play on a pop up then a ground out after Chase Grant doubled.
Matt Wezniak started the Carlsbad eighth with a single and stole second. A grounder to second moved Wezniak to third with one out, but Huber got a weak fly ball and a ground out to put a lid on the victory.
“I don’t come into games in this situation very often,” said Huber, a senior. “I did it last year in the playoffs against Rancho Buena Vista, so I tried to look back on that and gain some confidence.
“This season has been a struggle for us on the road, but we’ve won three in a row now, so we’re starting to get it.”
Lomax gave Mira Mesa another strong effort on the mound. He was the victim of a three-run fifth inning in which his defense made three errors.
Lomax also had a double and a single while Zak Ollila had a two-RBI double and Neiko Yribe walked with the bases loaded to force in the winning run for the Marauders (21-14).
“We played our butts off against a good, tournament-tested Carlsbad team,” said Mira Mesa coach Ben Rosenthal. “Errors hurt Trey, but he didn’t dwell on it. Bottom line is we gave ourselves a chance to win this thing.”
There was a definite playoff atmosphere to Tuesday’s game. The teams played before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 500 at Carlsbad (25-7).
“Mira Mesa had to win, but we played like the pressure was on us,” Lancers coach Chris Greene said. “How many mistakes did we make? We made two fielding errors, made two baserunning errors, and couldn’t get a bunt down when we needed it.
“I did a little Hoosiers thing before the game — told the guys it was still 90-foot bases and 60 feet, 6 inches from the mound to the plate. We told ’em not to let the crowd or four umpires get to ’em. We just need to relax.
“We’ll give the ball to Slater Lee (11-1, 1.47 ERA). He’s our ace. I think he’s the best in the county. All you can ask is to have your ace on the mound with the season on the line.”