LAS FLORES— The bases were loaded during a tied game in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs.
Every player dreams about having an opportunity like that to win the game.
For Jackson Peper, his dream became a reality against Mission Viejo.
Peper was down to his final strike, but was able to deliver the game winning hit into left field and give Tesoro the 3-2 victory and sweep the season series against the Diablos on Friday afternoon.
“I wan’t really thinking about the moment, just about that it’s another at-bat,” Peper said. “I just tried to keep the same mindset which was to keep things simple and stay relaxed.”
Tesoro’s starting pitcher Caden Engelken retired Mission Viejo’s first three batters in order to start the game. Then, it came out with a bang in the bottom of the inning as Jackson Freeman launched a solo home run to give the Titans a 1-0 lead.
Freeman’s eighth home run of the year broke Tesoro’s single season home record with seven games to spare.
“It’s something that you look at and say, ‘That would be an awesome thing to break,” Freeman said. “You’re not really thinking about it but when it happens it’s pretty cool. I’m just trying to have good at-bats and I’m happy at the result.”
Mission Viejo answered back in the second inning as pitcher Tyler Holland roped a double into the gap. He was driven home after Brandon Cole’s sacrifice fly even upped the score at 1-1.
Holland dominated Tesoro’s lineup and shut them out for the rest of his outing following the hiccup to Freeman. He pitched six innings while striking out four.
Holland’s excellent pitching also helped the Diablos offense come to life in the third inning as Jack Boucher kept the inning alive with a two-out single. Travis Anderson capitalized on Tesoro’s mistake and drove a line drive into the right centerfield gap to score Boucher and give the Diablos a 2-1 lead.
Tesoro were given one last chance to take the lead in the seventh inning after Holland was done on the mound. Owen Faust reached on an infield single to spark the Titans’ rally.
Jackson Freeman stepped up to the plate looking for something to drive Faust in after being pitched around and walked in his previous two at-bats. Freeman scorched a fastball down the middle into the wall in left center field for a double to tie up the game.
Mission Viejo intentionally walked Carter Jorrisen and hit Jake Lambdin to load the bases. After a strikeout led to there being two outs, Jackson Peper got the game winning hit to close their gap in the South Coast League to just half a game.
“It was a team effort up and down the whole lineup for the whole game,” Tesoro head coach Tony Nieto said. “The perseverance of Jackson Peper to come up clutch for us right there was huge.”
After Friday’s win, the Titans will face Dana Hills on Saturday and then take on league leaders Capo Valley two weeks later for what could be the South Coast League Championship.