WATSONVILLE—There’s nothing fancy or stylish about the way the Monte Vista Christian baseball team has been playing this season.
Perhaps it’s the tank tops and flip flops or the casual beach road attire but whatever it is, it’s working.
“I just feel like my team needs to stay loose,” MVC coach Johnny Ramirez said. “If you want to come in a clown outfit, go ahead, as long as we don’t play like clowns.”
The way the top-seeded Mustangs performed on Friday was no circus act as they trampled their way to an 8-3 win over No. 4 Durham in the CIF NorCal Regional Division V semifinals.
MVC senior outfielder Luis Quintero said there’s nothing much to say on the way they play other than they are just a loose group of guys that continues to have fun.
“That translates in games,” he said. “If we tighten up, things tend to not go our way. Sometimes the ball bounces their way or whatnot…it’s kind of weird to say, staying loose helps us focus.”
Senior ace pitcher Jojo Keldsen was loose and focused on the mound in the complete-game win for MVC.
Quintero said he’s known Keldsen since they were 5 years old and it’s been great to see how much his life-long friend has grown not only in stature, but his maturity on the mound.
“It’s great, I get to play with him from Little League all the way up here,” Quintero said. “We kind of keep each other accountable, keep playing, have fun and loosey-goosey. Gotta keep it loose and have some fun with it.”
Ramirez said from here on out it’s just all about getting ready for the next game, which will be against No. 6 Berean Christian.
Sebastian Gonzalez recorded 12 strikeouts for the Eagles in their upset win over No. 2 Turlock Christian in Thursday’s D-V semifinals.
The Mustangs were considered the dark horse of the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Mission Division after a fourth place finish in the league standings.
Ramirez led MVC in his first season as the skipper to its first-ever Central Coast Section title with a win over Gunn High in the D-VI final May 26.
Ramirez now has a chance to add a CIF NorCal plaque to the trophy case.
Quintero said at one point during the season he didn’t think they would qualify for the playoffs.
However, a redemption win against The King’s Academy in the regular season finale catapulted the Mustangs into the CCS postseason.
“Now we’re one win away from a NorCal title, it’s crazy,” Quintero said.
Quintero, who called himself a MaxPreps nerd, does his homework like Ramirez and the rest of the coaching staff, taking note of who’s in the other dugout.
“We didn’t want to underestimate [Durham], it could be a scrap, it could be a war, you never know how it’s going to end up,” he said. “At the end of the day we came out with the win, that’s all that matters.”
The Trojans got an early jump though when Owen Allsup drove in Tyler Messina for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
MVC responded right back on an RBI single by Jacob Woods who drove in Mark Spohn to tie it at 1-all.
In the second, Spohn gave the Mustangs their first lead with an RBI single that drove in Keldsen, making it 2-1.
Gavin Allen came through with a smashing hit that nearly left the park but it went off the left fielder’s glove for an RBI double, extending the Mustangs’ lead by two.
Allen, a 6-foot, 6-inch senior right fielder, showed off his defensive skills after he ran down a pop fly that was dropping fast in between him and Quintero.
Allen dove at the last second for the catch and quickly showed the umpires the ball in his glove as proof.
“It was a pretty hard hit ball, me and Luis [Quintero] were going back at it and I’m like, ‘Oh shoot, I don’t know if I got this,’” Allen said. “I saw Luis, he was kind of far away. I turned my back, leaped and somehow got it. It was super cool.”
In the fifth, Allen took one for the team after getting hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Quintero made the Trojans pay with a two-run double and MVC added three more insurance runs for an 8-1 lead.
Durham junior Gavin Keene hit a two-run blast over the left field wall to chip away at the deficit. But the Mustangs had already galloped too far ahead en route for the win.
“Super big win, super sick to be the first-ever team on Monte Vista that’s won CCS and gone to NorCal, super exciting,” Allen said.
Ramirez said he was pretty sure it was going to be a collision course between the top-two seeds. But nothing is for certain when it comes to the postseason.
Junior pitcher Dylan Hawkins will start on the mound for MVC in Saturday’s D-V final against Berean.
Ramirez said he doesn’t know much about the Eagles and he’ll be doing his homework on MaxPreps later tonight, just like Quintero.
“This is the last page in our book,” Ramirez said. “Win or lose, it’s been a great historic run. I’m hoping we get the win tomorrow…we’re just reppin Watsonville right now.”
CIF NorCal Regional D-V final
- Who: No. 1 Monte Vista Christian vs. No. 6 Berean Christian
- When: Saturday, 4pm
- Where: Monte Vista Christian School, 2 School Way, Watsonville
- Tickets: https://gofan.co/app/school/CIF