Flintridge Prep 10th-year Coach Buzz Cook thought he had seen it all after the Rebels overcame a 10-0 deficit by scoring 11 runs in the bottom of the third. Santa Paula (0-1) then regained the lead at 12-11 before Rodli provided his clutch hit.
“I don’t want to be in another game like this,” said Cook, whose team qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs last season. “I told them when it was 10-0 in the middle of the third inning that the only score that matters is the final score because you have got to play seven innings.
“Baseball, regardless, of the level, it’s about pitching and defense. It’s a nice win, but it magnifies the fact that you have to be ready to play.”
The Rebels encountered difficulty right from the first pitch. Flintridge Prep freshman starting pitcher Karlsen Termini struggled throughout two-plus innings. He faced 14 batters and tossed 61 pitches. Termini allowed five runs, three hits, five walks and four wild pitches.
Termini was relieved by Steve Fleming with two runners on and no outs. Fleming got two quick outs before Santa Paula, which advanced to the Division VI semifinals last spring, pushed across seven runs to make it 10-0.
Down, but certainly not out, Flintridge Prep responded in its half of the third. Six straight Flintridge Prep batters walked, including five with the bases loaded, to cut the deficit to 10-7.
Kyle McDonald then came through with a two-run triple to pull the Rebels to within 10-9. Connor McCann knotted the game with an opposite-field double to right to knot the game at 10 before Royce Park gave the Rebels an 11-10 lead with a double to center.
Back came Santa Paula with single runs in the fourth and fifth. The Cardinals took an 12-11 lead when Tony Penuelas stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher.