Though they didn’t quite enjoy the kind of run that the San Pasqual Eagles experienced, the Crusaders of Calvin Christian will look back with pride and a sense of accomplishment when recalling their 2018 baseball campaign.
To begin with, the Crusaders finished with a solid 18-8 overall record which included a 10-1 slate in the Ocean standings that earned for them a league title. At home, Calvin was particularly tough, registering 10 wins in 12 outings. And the Crusader offense was quite prolific, scoring a hefty 286 runs while yielding just 108.
By virtue of their regular season efforts, skipper Brian Presley’s club qualified for the Division V postseason and once there, Calvin made its presence clearly felt by sandwiching three victories around a loss before a fourth-round setback to Mt. Empire brought the season to a close.
Seeded 6th, CC was required to compete in a May 22nd play-in game against Liberty Charter (11th seed) with the winner advancing into the lower double elimination bracket while the loser would be one and done. With no margin for error, the Crusaders proved they were more than up to the task, pounding out an 11-1 victory.
Among those swinging particularly impactful bats were catcher Zeke Shockley ( a pair of doubles, 2RBIs), Andrew Garcia (2B, 2RBIs) and senior Bryce Lovisa (2H, 2RBIs). As for the chores on the mound, those were neatly taken care of by Lovisa and Garcia, who combined on a three-hitter while striking out 10 Lions.
That win enabled the Crusaders to move on but CC was then nipped 7-6 by Calvary Christian (No. 3 seed) in a first-round matchup. Now with their backs against the wall and fully aware that another defeat would send them packing, the Crusaders showed their resiliency and rebounded splendidly.
On May 25, Calvin emphatically took care of business with a 17-3 second-round demolition of Vincent Memorial. With Crusader outbursts of six runs in the second inning, five in the fourth and four more in the fifth, the issue was never in doubt. Again Calvin wielded some serious lumber with Garcia (3H, 3RBIs), freshman Will Shinkle (2B, 3 ribbies), Shockley (2H, 2B, 2RBIs), Paco Corona (2RBIs) and Anthony Coseo (2 ribbies) doing much of the damage. Meanwhile on the bump, Lovisa picked up another postseason win by going 5 innings while giving up just one earned run.
The triumph over VM offered the Crusaders a second shot at the Calvary Royal Knights in the third round and on this occasion, it was Calvin that seized the day with a 10-0 whitewash. In what might have been the best all-around game put together by Presley’s crew, everything seemed to coalesce into a perfect storm. Hurlers Lovisa and Shinkle combined for 12 K’s while allowing nary a hit, although the pair did issue seven walks. And as good as he was while dealing from the hill, Lovisa was just as impressive in the batter’s box as he went deep with a home run and double that helped account for 4 ribbies. Junior Clay Albright was also a factor at the plate, producing a double among his brace of hits brace of hits while driving home a run.
So on May 29, Calvin advanced to the fourth round where a victory over the 2nd-seeded Mt. Empire Red Hawks would have placed them within one more win of the championship finals. But despite giving it one heck of a go, the Crusaders couldn’t quite close the deal and came up just short, falling 4-3 in extra innings.
For a time Calvin seemed advantageously positioned, having rallied from an early 1-0 deficit to take a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth. But the Red Hawks knotted things up with a two-spot in that inning and then were sent into jubilation when they manufactured the decisive run in a fateful eight frame.
Unlike every other game during their postseason journey, the Crusader bats were basically muzzled in this encounter with only Garcia, Shockley and Coseo managing to author hits. And though he was saddled with the loss, Garcia had been both admirable and valiant in defeat, going 7.1 innings while fanning eight. Plus, of the four runs that were charged to the junior hurler, only one was earned.
And so though the Crusaders didn’t quite make it to the Promised Land, they got within hailing distance of it and in the process had themselves one damn good year!