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May 18, 2010 > Ohlone advances to State Championship

Ohlone advances to State Championship

By Jeff Weisinger
Photos By Don Jedloved

The Renegades have been in this situation before at times during the regular season: down throughout just about the entire game until the late innings.

But this time around, there was something different about this pair of comebacks.

Maybe it was the score-at-will Renegade lineup that knew when to come up, or the fact that they have a pitcher that has thrown two complete game shutouts in two postseason starts this year.

Maybe it was both of those facts.

Ohlone came back not just once, but twice against Chabot in the Super Regional Championship round on Sunday, May 16, to advance to this weekend's State Championship in Fresno.

"I'm just so proud of these guys," Renegades coach Jordon Twohig said. "They came out fighting and swinging. To come back and win against Chabot is even more special."

Chabot got to the championship round by steamrolling through both Diablo Valley College and Ohlone.

On Friday, May 14, the Gladiators broke open a tight ballgame with a four-run fourth inning to go ahead 5-1 against DVC, then added three insurance runs on a Jake Whitney three-run homer in the eighth to salt away their 8-3 win.

Brian Nelson got the complete game victory for Chabot, striking out seven while giving up only two earned runs. Chipper Lemmo went 2-3, including a double, with an RBI, and scored two runs. First baseman Whitney went 2-4, with 5 RBIs, and he scored twice.

Chabot's 6-2 win over host Ohlone on Saturday, May 15, placed them in the regional final against Ohlone (Ohlone emerged from the losers' bracket with a win over DVC following their loss to the Gladiators).

Nick Bartolone provided the heavy lumber for Chabot, going 4-6, scoring three runs. The Gladiators drew first blood with three runs in the third inning, two of the runs coming on a Kyle Gallegos double, and the other run coming on a Miguel Flores single.

Ohlone fought back down four in the first game on Sunday and tied the game at seven in the sixth when Zach Johnson drilled an A.J. Funk fastball over the wall at centerfield for his first grand slam of the playoffs in the Renegades 9-7 comeback win over the Gladiators.

"I was just excited to tie the game," Johnson said. "We made it a new ball game."

"I think it shifted the momentum," Twohig said. "It just takes one swing of the bat."

Then in game two, Twohig sent out ace lefty Roberto Padilla on just a day and a half rest to try to clinch a spot at State.

Padilla, who worked out after the Renegades' 2-1 win over Merced on Friday, May 14, showed up strong in game two, hurling the distance once again as he led the Renegades to a classic 3-1 win.

"The guy's got a heart of a warrior," Twohig said about the Coast Conferece Pitcher of the Year. "He's a tremendous worker who kept us in the game."

Padilla went the distance for the third time in as many starts, this time allowing just one run on four hits while striking out a postseason-high 11 batters.

Padilla allowed just one hit though the first three innings, retiring 11 of the first 13 batters faced until Miguel Flores laced a Padilla fastball over the wall at left field to give Chabot the 1-0 lead.

After allowing the solo homer, Padilla held the Gladiators hitless through the next three innings until Kyle Gallegos singled to center with one out in the eighth.

As well as Padilla pitched, however, so did Chabot starter Mike Botelho.

Botelho shutout the Renegades through the first seven innings, including stranding runners on the corners in the bottom of the fourth as Ohlone tried to answer Flores' home run in the top of the inning.

Botelho pitched seven and a third innings, allowing three runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out seven. The Renegades would finally spark in the eighth inning against Botelho.

After back-to-back walks to Michael Di Rocco and Jeff Johnson, Cody Foster laced a Botelho fastball to shortstop Nick Bartelone, who couldn't handle the bounce which allowed Michael Di Rocco to score from second to tie the game at one.

Zach Johnson followed Foster's RBI hit with one of his own, scoring pinch-runner Steven Zanders to give Ohlone the go-ahead 2-1 lead. Cody Foster capped the Renegades' three-run inning by scoring on a Mark Mercer fielder's choice off a throwing error by pitcher Brian Nelson.

Padilla finished his third straight complete game, getting the first two batters to ground out before striking out Johnny Petros to send Ohlone to Fresno.

"I'm excited. I knew we can get there," said Padilla. "Our team has heart. We play pitch by pitch and that's what we do to win games."

Ohlone travels to Fresno for the State Championship for just the second time in school history, and in just the second year under Twohig. "He's the reason why we are where we're at," Padilla said.

The final stretch to a State title begins Friday, May 21, opponent and time yet to be determined by press.

Gary van den Heuvel contributed to this article.

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