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Late Rally Lifts Mater Lakes Past LaSalle

Starting pitcher Jesus Hernandez is greeted by his Mater Lakes’ teammates during his complete-game three-hitter.

David Seijo kept getting on base, but nothing was happening behind him. After being left stranded in the first and third innings, Seijo finally made it to home plate in the bottom of the sixth, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Mater Lakes Academy.

Thanks to a two-out single by Gabriel Blanco through the left side of the infield, Seijo and Alek Sierra scored their team’s only runs. It was enough for the fourth-seeded Bears to edge fifth-seeded LaSalle, 2-1, in a 4A-District 15 quarterfinal Tuesday night at Florida Christian’s Patriot Field.

While the season ended for LaSalle, Mater Lakes (14-11-1) will get a shot at the district’s No. 1 seed Wednesday night when the Bears visit Monsignor Pace in a semifinal.

Trailing 1-0, Mater Lakes was six outs away from seeing its season end. Held scoreless by senior southpaw Brandon Blanco through five innings, Mater Lakes needed a spark. Seijo, a senior, provided it. Seijo entered the game with a .429 batting average, and he was the offensive star of the game with a 3-for-3 performance that included a double, a run and two stolen bases.

“David has been our most consistent player the whole season,” said Mater Lakes Manager Cesar Temes Jr. “He doesn’t try to do too much at the plate; he stays within himself, tries to poke the ball wherever he has to. He’s a tough out. He’s done it the whole year. Great kid, great work ethic.”

Seijo’s leadoff squibbler on an 0-2 pitch in the sixth barely went 20 feet, but it set the stage for a dramatic rally. One out later, Sierra reached on an outfield error. Following a double steal and the second out, Gabriel Blanco delivered the go-ahead hit.

“We were getting a little anxious; I won’t say nervous. We fought through and we did what we had to do,” Seijo said.

Cristian Santana, out of the No. 8 spot, delivered two of Mater Lakes’s six hits.

LaSalle second baseman Habib Khawan rifles the ball to first baseman Santos Grande for an out

Any last inning comeback hopes for LaSalle (12-13) were quickly dashed by Mater Lakes’ Jesus Hernandez, who stamped an exclamation point on his three-hit complete game gem by fanning the side in order to end the game. Hernandez allowed just three singles, walked none and struck out seven.

Both pitchers were sharp with their breaking pitches and were ahead of batters in the count nearly all night.

“Both pitchers pitched a great game,” Temes Jr. said. “They kept hitters off balance. A lot of the hits were little dribblers. It wasn’t like either team was getting solid hits.”

Hernandez’s only trouble came in the fourth. After retiring the first 11 batters, Hernandez surrendered a clean single to Santos Grande with two outs. After senior Eric Hazday reached on an error, senior Cristian Cabezas drilled an RBI single up the middle to snap a scoreless tie.

In his final appearance for LaSalle, Brandon Blanco struck out seven and walked none in five and two-third innings. He needed just 10 pitches to retire the side in the fifth, but four errors behind him proved to be costly.

The loss marked the final game for Brandon and five other LaSalle seniors.

“Great guys,” said LaSalle Manager Hernan Adames. “It’s the first year coaching with a new staff. They reacted real well. It’s all about fundamentals, good attitude and hard work, and they did that.”

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