"We were in most of our games [in the summer] and that's all you can ask for. That's a good indication moving into next season."
Tenth-seeded El Camino Real, which recorded a 9-8 win against San Pedro to claim the City Section crown in May, took advantage of a couple of St. Francis miscues to help it advance to the second round of the playoffs against seventh-seeded Simi Valley or 26th-seeded Westlake at 10 a.m. Saturday.
For example, the Conquistadors (10-7-1) took advantage of a botched pick-off attempt of Chris Whitmer in the first inning. Whitmer led off with a walk and moved to second on a throwing error by the pitcher. Yannick Villanueva then came through with a run-scoring single to make it 1-0 before a safety squeeze by Chris Scalisi made it 2-0.
The 23rd-seeded Golden Knights sliced the lead to 2-1 in the second when Young Song delivered a run-scoring single that plated Brady Markel with two outs.
St. Francis encountered some more difficulty in the bottom of the fifth. Luke Oller led off with a high popup that landed just to the left of the pitcher's mound for a single. Oller then scored on a double to right by Whitmer to extend the lead to 3-1 and the Conquistadors added another run on a run-scoring single by J.J. Crane.
"We had that one bad inning that led to those two runs," Esquival said.
St. Francis closed out the scoring in the sixth on a chopper to first by Jeff Garavaglia that scored Pete Hofman.
The Golden Knights finished with four hits. El Camino Real had seven hits.
St. Francis senior shortstop David Olmedo-Barrera said the Golden Knights, despite facing the City champs, weren't in awe of El Camino Real.
"We just tried to come in with a good attitude and have some fun," Olmedo-Barrera said. "We wanted to come in and play our own game.
"We had a good summer, but now we want to have a good outlook on next season."
St. Francis competed without starting catcher David Hubinger and pitcher Joey Malham. Hubinger participated for the Arroyo Seco Saints in a Palomino Regional Baseball Tournament at Jackie Robinson Field in Pasadena and Malham was on vacation, Esquival said.