St. Francis (14-14), which had previously won three straight games to lock up an automatic playoff spot out of the Mission League, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but Peninsula would answer every Golden Knights' offensive with a far bigger rebuttal. Keyed by a three-for-four day at the plate from Teddy Dilts, the Panthers answered with four runs in the first and three in the fifth after St. Francis had scored twice in the top of the fifth to cut the score to 4-3.
"They answered right back," Esquival said.
Peninsula (20-8-1) will now play Chino Hills today in a first-round game.
Despite taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the stanza proved to be a negative foreshadowing of what lay ahead for the Golden Knights.
David Olmedo-Barrera, who went two for three with two runs and a walk, was ushered in when Peninsula starter Christian Torres hit Anders Schraer with the bases loaded. However, the bases would stay loaded as the Golden Knights stranded their first three of many runners in the game.
"Early on, their guy was a little bit on the wild side," said Esquival of Torres. "But he settled down a little after that."
Torres went 4 1/3 innings, allowing all three runs, five hits, three walks and hitting a batter.
St. Francis notched seven hits and drew six walks, but also had nine strikeouts.
Golden Knights starter Joey Malham also went 4 1/3 innings, but allowed all seven runs and 12 hits.
"He didn't have his best performance," Esquival said. "They do a good job of putting the ball in play and getting timely hits."
St. Francis answered in the fifth when Olmedo-Barrera led off with a double and eventually scored, along with Jeff Garavaglia, on a David Hubinger double. Garavaglia also had a pair of hits.
Behind a solo home run from Diltz and a two-run double from Ben Laetsch, though, Peninsula came right back in its half of the fifth to score three more runs.
The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was rained out.
Esquival said there was nothing outside of his team's play on the field that played a hand in the loss, however.
"It was cold, it was windy, but I don't think it had anything to do with it," he said. "I don't think the postponement had anything to do with it. We had our chances and didn't capitalize."