Chico pitcher Tyler Melton matched Gorman’s ace, Dakota Pacheco, pitch-for-pitch Thursday as the two silenced each other’s bats through seven innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, Gorman took advantage of the slightest of openings. After one-out walk and sacrifice bunt, Gorman brought home the winning run on an error and botched rundown to capture the Class A area title 2-1 at Brock High School.
“It’s not executing. We work on that, but in the heat of the moment it gets you,” said Chico coach Brian McBeth. “In a three-game series, we have it.”
The loss in the one-game, winner-take-all playoff ended the Dragons’ season at 20-7.
“It was a great season. A 20-win season is nothing to be disappointed about,” Melton said.
Facing Pacheco, who struck out the first five Dragon hitters and eight of the first nine, Melton was up to the task on the mound. He whiffed nine, including the side in the seventh inning. The Chico sophomore didn’t allow a hit until an infield single by Jose Maldonado in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up just two all night.
“He threw a great game. He kept us in it by battling,” McBeth said.
Gorman took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Rodrigo Mata worked one of his three walks on the night with one out. Mata scored on an error at second base.
Chico tied the score in the top of the fourth. Jaston McBee broke up Pacheco’s no-hitter with a bunt single. He then stole second and third, and raced home when Gorman catcher Sheldon Fenley’s throw got past third baseman Yovani Palacios.
The Dragons got only two more baserunners against Pacheco, who finished with 16 strikeouts and allowed three hits.
“We’ve been hitting against higher speeds all week in practice,” Melton said. “It just didn’t happen tonight.”
Brady North singled with one out in the eighth but was thrown out on the bases after Austin Collins’ strikeout to end the frame.
In the bottom of the inning, Melton struck out the leadoff hitter. He walked Maldonado, then Gorman’s Daniel Herrara bunted Maldonado to second with Pacheco coming up. Melton got Pacheco to hit a hard ground ball to first that bounced off the glove of the Dragons’ first baseman.
Maldonado rounded third on the play but got caught in a rundown. After chasing him between home and third, the Dragons could not get a tag and eventually threw the ball away to give Gorman the win.