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Cathedral ousts defending champ RB

05/31/2016, 10:04pm PDT
By John Maffei

Pitching strategy pays off as Dons advance to Open Division championship game

Cathedral Catholic coach Gary Remiker made the right pitching move in the Dons' playoff win over Rancho Bernardo.

With his two top pitchers — Connor Lunn and Preston Price — rested and ready to go, Cathedral Catholic baseball coach Gary Remiker had a decision to make in Tuesday’s fourth-round game of the Open Division playoffs against host Rancho Bernardo.

Start Price against the defending champion Broncos — win — and save Lunn (a nine-game winner) for the championship game?

Or start Lunn and save Price, a six-game winner?

Instead, Remiker threw everyone a curve and went with senior Sam Miller.

The right-hander responded with a two-hitter as the Dons won 2-1, eliminating the No. 2-seeded Broncos (24-10) and sending No. 3 Cathedral (24-9) to the San Diego Section finals with Lunn and Price ready to go.

The Dons will play the winner of the Eastlake-Grossmont series at 7 p.m. Saturday at USD’s Fowler Park. Grossmont beat Eastlake 3-2 Tuesday to force an elimination game Thursday.

“We had been talking about this situation since the playoffs started,” Remiker said.

“Technically, Miller is our No. 3. But he has pitched very well. He earned the right to start this game.

“Lunn and Price have logged a lot of innings (66 for Lunn, 54 for Price), so giving them a little extra rest isn’t a bad thing.”

Miller, who allowed just one unearned run, improved to 5-1 on the season and lowered his ERA over 451/3 innings to 1.39.

“Connor is a three-year varsity guy and Preston is going to Arizona,” said Miller, who had shut out Rancho Bernardo earlier in the season in a Lions Tournament game. “I respect the heck out of them.

“So to get a chance to start the game that would get us into the championship was a great opportunity — the biggest start of my career.

“I didn’t throw many sliders and my change-up was only OK. But my two-seamer, especially to the left-hand hitters, was really working.”

Rancho Bernardo, which is loaded with left-hand hitters, got a single from Alika Williams in the first inning and a bunt single by Jacob Gorman to start the fourth. Gorman scored the tying run on an error.

Jamison Hill started for RB and was equally as impressive. He walked Jacob Allred to start the game. Quinn Hoffman followed with a double and Kai Walter’s ground out gave the Dons the lead.

After Hoffman’s double, Hill retired 18 hitters in a row until Cole Mueller singled to start the seventh with the score tied 1-1. He was sacrificed to second and scored on an error.

“Both guys pitched extremely well,” said RB coach Sam Blalock. “We hit a couple of balls really well.

“Calvin Mitchell (who has 12 home runs) hit two balls to the warning track. But this is a funny game.”

The irony Tuesday is that Mueller made four errors for the Dons at third base. But he scored the game-winning run and made a great diving stop and throw on Kiichi Sato’s smash to end the game.

“Mueller struggled in the field, then wins the game for us,” Remiker said. “That shows me something.”

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