CARLSBAD — The sun shone brightly on Lancer field, but it couldn’t match the warmth generated by the brotherhood that flowed from both dugouts and the stands during the resurrected alumni baseball game event Feb. 13.
The Carlsbad High School Baseball Booster Club was host to the first annual Carlsbad Home Run Derby and the alumni game during the Presidents’ Day weekend at Carlsbad High School. The CHS Winter Varsity team took on a team made up of alumni players.
Home Run Derby winners included Mustang Anthony Bertussi, Bronco Devin Valdivia, Pony/Freshman Slater Lee, Junior Varsity Chase Bricker, Varsity Steven Bunnell and Mark Montgomery in the open category.
Coming into this game, the high school varsity squad had considerable respect for their elders, according to supporter David Eshelman. They watched Jon Talley launch home run after home run the day before in the home run derby. They knew former MLB pitcher Scott Karl is still a Picasso at painting the corners of home plate, and a handful of the alumni players have been places the youngsters have dreams of going. Conversely the alumni squad was impressed by the varsity squad’s talent and envious of their youth. The game also marked the welcomed return of announcer Joe Rodriguez, home plate umpire Dave Thompson and coaches Ralph Cripe and Joe Pimentel.
The Alumni Lancers appeared to have the game in hand but the Varsity Lancers cashed in a final inning “gift card” that resulted in three runs and ended up with a 7-6 victory. Pitcher Karl was dominant with eight strikeout’s over four innings, but youth was served when Callan Dawson hit a homer in the first inning. The varsity squad went on to score three more single runs in later innings with a RBI by Steven Bunnell, Cameron Tennant and Tim Cole.
Jordan Szabo put the Alumni Lancers on the board in the fourth with a home run. An inning later they scored three more runs with a Gabe Jasmer walk, Keegan Moore doubled, Karl had an RBI fielder’s choice, Danny Carafa had a sacrifice fly and a Leif Palmquist singled in the final run.
The alumni led 4-2 and scored what looked to be two insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings with RBI singles by Jasmer and Austin Haynal.
Going into their final at-bats, the high schoolers trailed 6-4. Drew Perry led off the last inning with his second hit on the day, a leadoff single. Troy Forester followed with a single and then Justin Garcia walked the bases full. Thomas Eshelman hit a ground ball to Carafa at third who cleanly fielded the ball, got the force out at third and then fired the ball across the field to first looking to complete the double play. But the throw was wide and the varsity scored another run to tie the game. Up came Justin Hepner with the winning run now at third and he hit the first pitch he saw for the game winning RBI.
Starting varsity pitcher Shane Johnson went two innings and allowed no runs. Kyle Montiel struck out four players in two innings and Matt Thorp allowed no earned runs in two innings. Bunnell pitched the final inning for the varsity squad and was the recipient of the win. Trevor Wyman, Patrick Hodell, Palmquist and Haynal all came on in relief for the alumni squad with Haynal being the hard-luck loser.
The game was good, the vibe was better, Eshelman said.