By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
It’s hard to win a playoff game with just two hits, but the Palisades High baseball team bucked the odds last Thursday in its City Division I wildcard game against 16th-seeded Marshall in Los Feliz.
Bewildered most of the game by Barristers starter Andy Mendez, the Dolphins got the hits they needed when it mattered most.
With two outs in the top of the eighth inning, CSUN-bound shortstop Harrison Hart blasted a double off the left field fence, then scored on a single to center by Henry Coquillard. Reliever Will Bucksbaum closed the door in the bottom of the frame and the Dolphins escaped with a 1-0 win to keep their season alive.
“We were getting better each time through the order and when Harrison got his hit I felt a little more confident,” Coquillard said. “I took a two-strike approach and looked for anything close to make contact. Once it got through [the infield] I knew that Harrison would score.”
Hart’s heroics weren’t limited to his bat. In the bottom of the eighth, leadoff hitter Steven Recinos smoked up a ball through the box that looked like a sure base hit, but Hart dove to his left to catch the ball in midair.
Steven Flores, the next batter, bounced a tricky grounder between second and third, but Hart was there to field it on two hops and fire to Coquillard at first base for the second out.
When Roben Sieling finally squeezed a fly ball down the right field line the Dolphins poured out of their dugout to congratulate each other on a hardfought win.
“I was seeing the ball well, I just wasn’t swinging at good pitches,” Hart said of his double – the first hit off Mendez in 7 2/3 innings. “As the game went on he started elevating his pitches, he a threw a 3-1 pitch high and in and I let it rip.”
Starting pitcher Justin Hirchberg pitched out of two bases-loaded jams in six innings and kept his team in the game until its slumbering offense finally awoke.
“Justin started strong and ended strong,” Coquillard said. “You always want to blow the other team out, but when your pitcher is throwing a shutout you know you have to pick it up for them.”
The Northern League champion Barristers thought they had broken the stalemate on a fly ball to deep center with the bases full in the bottom of the sixth, but outfielder Remy Meteigner raced to track it down for the final out.
Palisades, seeded No. 17, earned a first-round trip to top-seeded Chatsworth on Tuesday.