St. Francis High senior Micah Cervantes records a hit in the second inning of the Central Coast Section Division II quarterfinals game against The King's Academy in Watsonville on May 18. (Raul Ebio/The Pajaronian)

The St. Francis High baseball team entered last week’s Central Coast Section playoffs against The King’s Academy riding the high of a 15-game winning streak.

It was a win-or-go-home scenario and, while both teams gave it all they had, the Knights concluded the Sharks’ season with a resounding 16-4 victory in the Division II quarterfinals May 18. 

“It’s really emotional,” said St. Francis head coach Ken Nakagawa, who knew most of the kids on this team since they could hardly walk. “This group is really close and I think that’s why we played well all year. You never want it to end this way but they care for each other a lot, that’s the culture we’ve built here.”

Going into Saturday afternoon’s game, the Sharks (22-5, 18-3)—runner-up in the Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division—were viewed as the favorites, owning the No. 2 seed in the D-II bracket. 

However, the Knights (16-10-2, 10-4)—runner-up in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division—played well enough in the regular season to secure the No. 7 seed.

“I don’t get caught up in the seedings very much,” TKA head coach Greg Mugg said. “At the end of the day it’s two teams and the team that plays better is going to win. We had a lot of respect for these guys coming in and knew we had to play a good ballgame.”

Right off the bat, the Knights showed the home crowd it wouldn’t be an easy game with a barrage of hits leading to four runs scored in the first inning.

The Sharks set themselves up with the bases loaded and no outs after a series of walks. But they couldn’t capitalize and scored just one run, making it 4-1 after the opening frame. 

Throughout the game, the Knights managed to drive the score up by managing their at-bats. They racked up the Sharks’ pitching count, and found ways to get on base.

After the umpire called the game, there were plenty of tears shed on the home side of the field. It was a sentiment for how much the players regarded their time playing with one another over the years.

“Emotions are high but it’s tough to go out that way,” St. Francis junior Nash Horton said. “They brought their ‘A’-game and we didn’t play our best. I’m grateful I’ve got another year of high school baseball to play.”

In 26 games played this season, Horton led the Sharks with a .489 batting average (45-for-92) with three home runs, three triples, 10 RBIs in addition to 33 runs scored, 33 RBIs and 23 stolen bases after sitting out the bulk of his sophomore season with an arm injury.

Horton isn’t the only Shark who has come up big during the season as all five seniors are moving on to play college baseball next year.

Junior infielder Pedro Ibarra committed to play at San Jose State University next year. He finished batting a .432 average (35-for-81) with three home runs, one triple, 10 doubles, 32 RBIs, 23 runs scored and 13 stolen bases this season.

“We had a great year, there’s no doubt about that,” Horton said. “You could look at all of our stats and I think there’s a lot of highs to look at. Our seniors are all moving onto bigger and better things.”

After losing three of their first six games of the season, the Sharks won 19 of their next 20 games leading up to Saturday’s loss, which doubled their largest losing discrepancy of the season.

The loss of Ibarra along with fellow seniors Trey Silva, Micah Cervantes, Adrian Leon and Derek Talavera will be a major blow to the program. 

Yet, the returning players remain optimistic moving forward into next season with the pieces they currently have and the development of talent from their freshmen.

Nakagawa believes the future is bright with leaders such as Horton and Javier Fonseca, who has been a huge part of the Sharks’ program. 

Fonseca finished with a team-best 34 RBIs, which tied him for seventh overall in the CCS along with Liam Barrett of Mountain View High.  

“Everybody talks about rebuilding but we’re going to just keep moving forward,” Nakagawa said. 


No. 8 Hollister 11, No. 1 Aptos 0: The top seeded Mariners were stunned in the opening round of the playoffs following a loss to the Haybalers in the quarterfinals May 18. 

Hollister jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning after scoring on a sacrifice fly, a balk and an RBI single.                                                                                          

Aptos finished with a 12-12-1 overall record and captured the SCCAL crown going 10-4-1 in league play this season.


No. 4 Scotts Valley 3, No. 5 Willow Glen: Falcons senior Blake LaRiviere tossed six innings allowing just two runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts in a 3-2 win over Willow Glen High in the D-IV quarterfinals May 18.

“I felt locked in, everything was working for me,” he said. “A couple of times there I got wild, but then I was able to just center myself and block out that noise that was happening.” 

Willow Glen’s dugout was boisterous throughout the contest, shouting and at times shaking the chain-linked fence.

Scotts Valley junior Kaleb Wing batted 1-for-2 with two RBIs and one run scored. Senior Quinn Turowski had one hit and scored one run and sophomore Jacob Pauka scored one run and had two hits, including one that started a rally in the fourth inning.  

“I was just thinking line drive, top of the ball,” Pauka said. “Just trying to make contact, get something going.”

Next up, Scotts Valley plays No. 8 Homestead in the D-IV semifinals at Sollecito Park in Monterey on Wednesday at 4pm. Purchase tickets ahead of time at

CCS softball


No. 3 Monterey 10, No. 6 Watsonville 0 (5 innings): Julia Maldonado, Jillian Lerma and Audrina Gonzalez each had one hit for the Wildcatz in a loss to the Toreadores in the quarterfinals May 18.

Sophomore pitcher Amelia Martinez allowed 10 runs (four earned) on 10 hits with four walks and six strikeouts for the ‘Catz.

Monterey senior pitcher Ella Myers allowed three hits with nine strikeouts for the complete game shutout victory, while Kyie Goud had two hits with one double, two RBIs and one run scored.

The Wildcatz finished with a 15-5 overall record and captured the PCAL Mission Division crown going 11-1 in league play this season.


No. 4 Milpitas 3, No. 5 Scotts Valley 0: Junior pitcher Sofie Seese allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits with one walk and seven strikeouts for the Falcons in a loss to the Trojans in the quarterfinals May 18. 

Abby Howell and Taylor Wilson each had one double, and Gracie Delgado had one hit for Scotts Valley.

Milpitas was led by senior pitcher Priyah Quinonez, who recorded eight strikeouts and allowed two hits for the complete game victory. Sophomore Chloe Cabrera had a two-run double in the fourth inning for the Trojans.

Scotts Valley finished the season with a 14-7 overall record and captured its first Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League crown since 2017, going 13-2 in league play this season. 

No. 1 Valley Christian 16, No. 8 Aptos 5 (5 innings): The Warriors poured in 12 runs in the fourth inning en route to a victory over the Mariners in the quarterfinals May 18.   

Aptos pitcher Ava Servin tossed three innings allowings 11 runs (nine earned) on eight hits with five walks. 

Fellow teammate Raegan Fulton batted 3-for-3 with one home run and a pair of RBIs, while Bailey Fulton had two hits and scored three runs.

Nova Neu had one home run and two RBIs, and Emma Burgueno had one hit and one RBI for Aptos.

The Mariners finished with a 16-7 overall record and was runner-up in the SCCAL standings with a 12-3 record in league play this season.  


No. 7 Cupertino 9, No. 2 San Lorenzo Valley 5: Senior catcher Olivia Renouf had two hits with one double and one RBI for the Cougars in a loss to the Pioneers in the quarterfinals May 18.

Alyssa Struthers, Sophia Sarmiento and Grace Purtscher each had one hit with one RBI for SLV. Fellow teammates Olive Colby, Ray Alvarez and Jori Fields-Rapley each had one base hit.

SLV pitcher Abigale Krepelka tossed 3 1/3 innings allowing nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits with six walks and three strikeouts. Fields-Rapley allowed two hits with two strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

The Cougars finished with a 15-11 overall record and placed third in the SCCAL standings with an 11-4 record in league play this season.  

*Additional reporting by sports editor Juan Reyes

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