CYPRESS — Scott Pickler, Cypress baseball coach, reached deep into his pitching staff and got remarkable performances as the host Chargers earned a trip to the state tournament by beating Saddleback twice Sunday.
The dramatic afternoon ended when Cypress reliever Keith Ginter struck out pinch-hitter Jon Lauderdale, who had a full count with a runner on, to save the Chargers' 5-4 victory in the deciding game.
He saved the game for starter Rick Claggett, a sophomore right-hander who gave up seven hits to improve to 6-2.
Cypress forced the second game when Tony Palazzolo, a freshman left-hander, pitched a six-hitter as Cypress won, 8-1. It was his second start of the season and first decision.
"When I came out for batting practice," Palazzolo said, "they threw me the [game] ball and I said, 'What do you want me to do, rub it up?' "
Cypress (39-12) also got some timely hitting.
The score was tied, 3-3, when Junior Rodriguez opened the sixth with a hard single to center. That brought up Randy Case, who had been slumping and dropped from third to seventh. Saddleback pitched out on a hit-and-run play but Case reached across the plate and lined a double to the fence in center, driving in Rodriguez.
Case moved to third on a sacrifice and scored on Matt Roman's ground out to make it 5-3.
Jeremy Booth had two two-out RBI doubles earlier in the game for the Chargers.
Saddleback got within a run when Corrie Willkie doubled in the eighth and later scored on pinch-hitter Aaron Sepulveda's ground out.
In the ninth, Claggett got the first two outs, the second coming when center fielder Roman went well into the gap in right-center for a line drive.
Danny Rivas got a two-out single and Saddleback Coach Jack Hodges turned to Lauderdale, who had five RBIs Saturday in the Gauchos' 9-2 victory over Cypress. Lauderdale had jammed his ankle trying to score in Saturday's game and couldn't run.
Lauderdale, who set a Saddleback single-season record for RBIs with 65, said he could hit.
"He got some really good cuts," Saddleback Coach Jack Hodges said. "We were just hoping he could get on up in the air."
Freshman Brian Flanagan hit a grand slam in the fourth inning to give Cypress a 4-1 lead in the first game.
Cypress added two runs in the inning and after that, Palazzolo had Saddleback's bats under control until the seventh. Rivas had an RBI single in that inning and an error enabled Kevin Brady to reach to start the ninth. But after a fly out, Palazzolo fielded a ground ball and started a game-ending double play.
Cypress (39-11) hosts Fresno at 7 p.m. Saturday in the opening round of the state tournament.