Crespi’s championship season ends in a 3-1 loss to Santana in the Regional Semifinals
Ranked 8th in the entire state of California, the Crespi Celts were soaring with confidence heading in the CIF SoCal Division II Regional Playoffs. After winning a championship in the Southern Section Playoffs, the Celts rode the momentum into the First Round of the SoCal Regionals with a dominant 11-4 win over Carson, a finalist in the L.A. City section. However, Crespi’s competition would only get tougher, as they hosted the Santana Sultans from the San Diego Section on Thursday. Santana is ranked in the top-40 in the state of California, powered by senior pitcher Destin Allen-Fox. The Sultans rode the hot hand of their star pitcher, as he pitched a complete game allowing only 3 hits and one run. His teammates added just enough run support to squeeze out a 3-1 win for Santana, ending Crespi’s playoff run.
Sophomore pitcher Tyler Walton got the start for the Celts against Allen-Fox, who had an astounding 0.56 ERA heading into Thursday’s contest. Walton got himself into an early jam in the top of the 1st inning, when he loaded the bases with three walks. The young pitcher displayed his composure, as he escaped the inning without surrendering a run. The game was scoreless until the top of the 2nd inning, when Santana’s discipline at the plate continued to take shape. Starting with a walk from senior second baseman Luke Nash, the Sultans got a second runner on base when senior outfielder Zander Allen-Fox added a single in their first hit of the day. Santana added back-to-back groundout RBIs on the following at-bats to take a 2-0 lead.
Allen-Fox held the Celts scoreless and hitless until the bottom of the 3rd inning, when Crespi’s offensive patience allowed them to cut into the Sultans’ lead. Sophomore Diego Velasquez, the leader in total hits for the Celts, obtained an early walk and later advanced to second base on a balk. With only one out on the inning, he used his crafty base running skills to steal third base. Down to their last out, Crespi fortunately added another runner on first base when senior outfielder Ethan Kodama was hit by a pitch. Senior catcher Isaiah Magdaleno took advantage of the miscue, as he produced the Celts’ first hit of the afternoon with a single, bringing Velasquez home to cut the deficit to 2-1 in favor of the Sultans.
Both pitchers showed their command on the mound in the next two innings - neither allowing a run, each adding a strikeout with only Walton giving up a hit in the top of the 5th inning. Santana’s offense began to wake up in the top of the 6th inning when, following a walk, Nash added a single to put two runners on base. Zander Allen-Fox advanced to first base with a bunt to load up the bases, which led to the Celts making a pitching change to end Walton’s afternoon. Crespi put their trust in junior Brayden Briscoe to stop the bleeding on the mound, but it did not curtail senior third baseman Caden Corderman from adding a key single to knock in a run to extend the Santana lead to 3-1. Despite the allowed run, he was able to get out of the inning without any further damage, adding a strikeout in the process.
Crespi produced two additional hits in the bottom of the 6th and 7th innings respectively. The Celts had a glimmer of hope in the bottom of the 7th inning when senior shortstop Christopher Arce walked to first base with sophomore Nathanael Lopez on second base. Down to their last out, Destin Allen-Fox struck out his seventh batter of the day, securing the 3-1 victory for Santana.
Despite the disappointing loss, Crespi Head Coach Nick Santoro was very proud of what his team was able to accomplish this season. He stated, “This team is battle tested. These guys have tremendous character. Even though we got down early, there wasn’t a time when we felt like there wasn’t a chance for us to win the game.” Pleased with the effort from Walton, Santoro knows the Celts have a solid foundation to build on moving forward, “The future is bright for us.Tyler is one of those guys that’s gonna be a big piece for us. He really pitched well for us this year and he’s going to continue to be a good piece and a large portion of our success.” As for Santana, they will advance to host Calabasas in the SoCal Regional Championship Game on Saturday.