By Bill Tamburrino
The Ramona Bulldog baseball team had to play an extra game in the CIF playoff format and played their way into the double elimination part of the CIF playoffs but were eliminated after getting into the two and a barbecue format.
In the present system there is a play-in round where if a team loses it is eliminated. Ramona (15-17) beat Hilltop High School (14-14) in the play-in round. After the play-in round, the CIF playoffs become double elimination. Ramona lost to La Costa Canyon High School and Helix High School and was eliminated from the playoffs.
Ramona beat Hilltop 5-1 at home in the final home game for the RHS seniors. Seniors Beau Sulser and Jackson Willeford went out in style.
Sulser got the start on the mound and went the distance earning the win by limiting the Lancers to five hits. He struck out seven.
Jackson Willeford went 1-for-two at the plate. That one hit was a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Bulldogs all of the runs they would need. The blast over the right field fence was his 11th of the season. Willeford scored two runs in the game.
Ramona’s offense made the most of eight hits. Gage Canning and Jordan Farhat each had two-hit outings. Farhat had a double and two RBIs. Sulser also made his presence known on offense. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Brandon Fitzpatrick stroked a double in a 1-for-3 outing. Christian Drews also went 1-for-3.
The Dawgs traveled to La Costa Canyon (20-9-1) and lost 5-4 in extra innings to the Mavericks.
Ramona trailed 4-0 going into the top of the fifth inning. The Dawgs staged a rally in the fifth to tie the score. Drews opened the frame with a single. With one out, Kyle singled. With two down, Canning beat out a bunt for a base hit.
Willeford drove in two runs with a single. Sulser reached on an error that scored Canning and Willeford.
Harrison McGhee got the start on the hill and went three innings and gave up four runs on four hits. He walked six and struck out six. Rhett Williams went the final five and two-thirds innings, scattering four hits, walked two and struck out two.
Kevin Hagan and Wilson both had two hit days at the plate both going 2-for-4.
The Bulldogs’ season ended at Helix High School with a 13-3 defeat.
The Highlanders (21-11) scored eight runs in the second inning to put the game away.
Ramona scored all three of its runs in the third inning when Willeford stroked Ramona’s only hit of the game — a two-run single after Henry Flecker reached on an error and Wilson drew a base on balls. Canning reached on a fielder’s choice.
Wilson drove in Flecker and Wilson, and Canning scored on a fielder’s choice.
Wilson got his first start of the season and took the loss.
Joey Belluso, up from junior varsity, relieved Wilson. Hunter McHargue pitched two innings.
Sulser finished the game and his Bulldog career by retiring all six of the batters he faced. Sulser fanned the final hitter he faced.
The 2012 Bulldogs were a young team and graduate only three seniors — the top two pitchers, Sulser and McGhee, and their top hitter, Willeford.
“Our seniors had great careers and they will be greatly missed,” said Coach Dean Welch.
“Jackson went to the playoffs all four years, Beau three years, and Harrison two. Our younger players improved and matured as the season progressed, and we had a championship junior varsity team, so our future looks bright. I enjoyed coaching this team,” said Welch.
“I also enjoyed coaching with my staff: Mike Schuler, Bob Snelling, Josh Lohman, and Tom Jamison. They are all great teachers and coaches,” the coach added.