Strathmore downs Summit Charter 10-2 to move on

Strathmore High School’s dugout went crazy following the third-seeded Spartans’ 10-2 victory over 10th-seed Summit Charter Collegiate Academy Friday at home.

But the excitement was less about the quarterfinal win and more about the fact that seventh-seed Foothill (12-15) took down second-seed Fresno Christian (17-6) 8-4 to give the Spartans their first home semifinal game in school history for the next round of CIF Central Section Division VI playoffs.

“We’ve got a home game!” exclaimed a player.

“Did you hear?” asked a fan to another. “We’re playing at home next week!”

And “Woooo!” was the response from SHS head coach Thad Reece when he heard the news.

Coming into the postseason with the best record in school history the Spartans (16-19-1) have been riding a wave of firsts for the program and Reece is very proud of the kids.

“It was exciting,” Reece said. “We’ve never been ranked this high in the school history. We’ve never had this many wins. I’m very happy for the kids. They played really, really hard. They’ve worked hard.”

Hard worked paid off for Strathmore when they faced a surging Summit Charter (12-13) team that has never looked better in its short four years of existence.

“I really love what’s happening at Summit,” Reece said. “The coaching staff, they’re wonderful. They’ve done an amazing job with those kids over there and they’re going to continue to get better. I just see it.”

The Bears struck first in the top of the first but a run in both the first and second inning put the Spartans ahead 2-1.

Then came a big six-run inning for Strathmore in the bottom of the third. The Spartans’ Jacob Flores and Jaylen Oats both singled to get on base, then Angel Topete and John Leal hit back-to-back RBIs to bring them in and take a 4-1 lead.

With no outs, Summit pulled starting pitcher Tah Wun Nahl Gibson from the game and Michael Diaz took over for the Bears. But the change didn’t stop the Spartans.

Topete scored on an error, Rigo Alvarez walked, Leal scored on a bad throw to third and Matt Brown got the first hit off Diaz. Summit was able to get the next three batters out but not before Aidan Jackson and Josue Topete brought in Alvarez and Brown on sacrifice hits.

The Spartans beat the Bears around the bases, finishing with nine stolen bases, while bad fielding also pained Summit.

Jaylen Oats led the team at the plate, going 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, and also had two stolen bases. William Reece, who had an RBI and a run scored was the only other player to get two stolen bases. Josue Topete also showed off his speed, going 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Both of Topete’s hits were infield singles where he was able to beat the infielder’s throw to first base.

“We took advantage of our speed today,” coach Thad Reece said. “I think that was really the difference. Josue beat out a couple balls and stole some bags. Getting a little pressure on them.”

“They put pressure on us and then one of their best players, Noah Rogers, hurt himself out at second,” Reece said about the first inning injury. “That’s their third hitter and I think that kind of put a damper on them. So, you know I hope he’s okay. I really love that kid. In fact I coached him in Little League. Most of these kids I know.”

William Reece got the win on the mound, showing that even on a down day he can still be tough to beat. Reece went 6 ⅔ innings with two runs on two hits and two walks. He also retired nine batters and had three 1-2-3 innings.

“William wasn’t as sharp as he’s been,” Thad Reece said. “I mean he still had nine or 10 Ks but he had way too many pitches — 113 pitches.”

Gibson took the loss for Summit after going two innings with six runs on eight hits, two walks and one strikeout. In relief, Diaz allowed four runs on four hits, three walks and one strikeout.

Strathmore tacked on their final two runs of the game with RBIs from William Reece and Flores, respectively.  

“We’re looking forward,” Reece said. “I guess you just told me that we’re going to have a home game, which is shocking. But if we win that one then we get to go to Valley for the finals. And that would be amazing.”

But before Valley, the team has one more game. On Wednesday, third-seed Strathmore hosts seventh-seed Foothill in a Div. VI semifinal game.

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