(Fresno, CA) For a team that was heading home from the state championships without a win in two games, they left an indelible mark for the Mt. San Antonio College baseball program.
The recently concluded California Community College Athletic Association State Championships were the first for the Mt. SAC program in 52 years and the Mounties mounted two tremendous comeback games.
The latest was their last, as Mt. SAC scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game 4-4, only to fall in the twelfth inning, 10-4, against Orange Coast College in an elimination game on Sunday May 27 at John Euless Ballpark, home of Fresno City College.
The Mounties finished a very successful season at 35-14 and won the South Coast Conference championship, which included an amazing 20-4 home record at Mazmanian Field, compiled a .308 team batting average and finished with 380 (7.8 per game avg.) runs scored.
"This game was kind of indicative of the heart that these guys have shown," second-year Mounties coach John Knott said. "The refusal to lose and staying in every game and they don't quit.
"Hopefully we learn from this and grow and get better."
The big hit in the ninth inning was a bases-clearing, two-out double off the left field wall by designated hitter Anthony Walters (2 for 3, 3 RBIs, 2 Dbls.), scoring shortstop Elijah Zaragoza (1 for 4, R), catcher Chris Sandberg (2 for 5, R, Dbl.) and second baseman Ryon Knowles (1 for 4, R) to trail 4-3.
"This team has done so much this year and I was just thinking that this was for the team and it was just my time to back them up," said Walters of his monster hit. "I was happy to get it done."
Knowles (BB), Sandberg (HBP) and Zaragoza (BB) all reached base without a hit in the inning.
Derek Zavala pinch ran for Walters and Greene was intentionally walked setting up the next batter.
The huge crowd of Mt. SAC families and supporters were ready to explode for the next hit off the bat of right fielder Brandon Bradshaw.
Bradshaw, who was hitless in his first four at bats, singled to left field sending in Zavala for the tying score at 4-4.
"That's the most memorable hit I've ever had, is that game-tying single with two outs," Bradshaw said. "That was pure adrenaline after Walters hit that one off the wall."
Both teams battled for the next three innings with OCC ending it with six runs in the 12th inning.
What they were saying:
Coach John Knott: "I couldn't be prouder of this group and they pulled from one another and they were competitive and it was fun.
"I hope people recognize that we're about the right things, which is first and foremost these guys moving on and matriculating. And getting scholarships and putting out a competitive product with an amazing facility and all the assets that help a young man move on are important"
Coach Ryan Doran (Pitching Coach): "Oh my gosh, it's not what we've (coaches) done, it's what the players have done. It comes down to their work and desire and staying healthy. Locating pitches, especially in the big moments, that's where we really made our money this year.
It's a tribute to our recruiting."
Coach Scott Zine (3B Coach, Hitting): "The one thing these guys all have in common is character. You can't put a value on that. We prided ourselves on never being out of a game regardless of the score. At the end of the day it's exciting for the future here at Mt. SAC. We are not satisfied just being here. We're definitely going to be back and these kids are trailblazers."
Coach Matt Silberman (Bullpen coach, pitching): "It's been real fun, special and competitive. It set the tone for the future. It's been awesome to be part of that culture. This team was so tight."
Steven Ordorica (Pitcher): "As our coach said, 'the seventh, eighth and ninth are our best innings.' We had a special brotherhood."
Nic Sandoval (OF, DH): "This has been awesome. Some of the best years of my life for baseball. We were totally able to change the culture at Mt. SAC."
Brandon Bradshaw (OF): "I know the type of coach, coach Knott is because of the type of program we had at Bonita. He gets the most out of guys."
Zach Bromstead (Pitcher): "Being here (Mt. SAC) I can see it growing and a lot of players are going to want to come here and get some transfers. I'm happy that we as a group got as close as we did and we put Mt. SAC back on the map. We're here to stay."
Michael Sandoval (Third baseman): "You've gotta have heart, that's what this game is. We all got close as a family. Now Mt. SAC is on the map."
Dino Miranda (1B, DH): "From the coaching standpoint, the examples they set and the goals they had for us and that you can't settle for nothing less. All of the hard work paid off."
Mason Corneliussen (Pitcher): "It was pretty special. I've been playing baseball my whole life and this is the finest year of baseball I've ever had. The brotherhood that we created was something unreal."
College: California State University San Marcos
Quinn Cotter (Outfield): "This shows what type of character and resiliency this team has and nothing can really bring us down. We can always find a way back. We wanted to change the culture here at Mt. SAC and coach Knott is making that change in the program. You can tell with our progress that we made it to state and how he's going, he'll get a state championship."
Elijah Greene (Outfielder): "It's just baby steps for the future of Mt. SAC. We did it for the future of Mt. SAC baseball and we didn't quit and we all had faith. And they always say you have 27 outs and make them count."
College: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Anthony Walters (Shortstop, DH): "This team is going to do good things for future of this program, especially next year. We just started a legacy here at Mt. SAC."
College: San Diego State University
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For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.