Combining his bulldog mentality with an unhittable slider, junior pitcher Hector Rabago saved top-seeded Riverside Poly from playoff elimination Friday, throwing seven innings of shutout relief to enable the Bears to pull out a 4-3, eight-inning victory over Newhall Hart in a Southern Section Division I quarterfinal baseball game.
Poly (25-3) pushed across the winning run in the top of the eighth inning on Mike O'Neill's sacrifice fly that scored Sharif Othman. Poly, which starts only two seniors, will play Placentia El Dorado (16-13) in a semifinal Tuesday at Blair Field in Long Beach.
El Dorado upset Anaheim Esperanza, 3-2, in one Division I quarterfinal, while second-seeded Simi Valley Royal was beaten by Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, 5-4, in another Division I upset.
Rabago struck out 10, walked four and gave up only one hit after entering in the second inning with his team trailing, 3-0. Hart (19-9-1) received a run-scoring double from Shane Carlson and a two-run home run from Tyler Fick in the first inning off LaCurtis Mayes, forcing Poly Coach Aaron Moore to call upon his closer, Rabago.
"I felt we needed to stop the momentum," Moore said. "Who else better to bring in than Hector."
Hart, though, had a chance to win the game in the seventh. The Indians loaded the bases with two out on a hit batter, intentional walk and a third strike that went to the backstop. The count went to 3-and-1 on Carlson, who proceeded to fly out.
"I was pretty focused," Rabago said of facing Carlson. "I wasn't worried about throwing a ball and losing the game."
Canyon Springs (21-8) broke a 4-4 tie when Adrian Williams singled in the winning run with two out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Josh Manzano had two sacrifice flies and Cameron Taylor, who went three for three, had a solo home run.
Matt DuFour (8-4) threw a three-hitter with three strikeouts and four walks and gave up only one earned run to lead El Dorado past visiting Esperanza (20-9). Shaun Lane singled home Derek Hall, who reached on a fielder's choice and advanced on Brandon Ertle's single, in the fifth inning for the eventual winning run.
Cypress junior left-hander Adam Wilk threw his 10th complete game and the top-seeded Centurions advanced to the Southern Section semifinals for the first time in the program's history with an 8-3 victory over visiting Camarillo in a Division II quarterfinal.
Wilk, who began the game with five shutouts, gave up eight hits and one earned run in improving to 9-2.
"I actually had all my pitches working," said Wilk, whose fastball hits the mid-80s. "I was able to throw my off-speed [pitches] for strikes and locate my fastball."
Josh Vitters, Daniel Voorheis and Brett Tanos had two-run singles in the first inning to stake Wilk to a six-run lead.
Cypress catcher Joe Cariaso singled to lead off the fourth inning, breaking the school's single-season record for hits. Cariaso has 43, one more than Bobby Brito totaled in 1996.
Blake Muller has a chance to go to two big dances today but is only planning to attend one.
The Santa Barbara senior, who won two matches Friday to advance to today's semifinals of the Southern Section individual tournament, decided late Friday to skip the last day of competition in order to attend his school's senior prom.
"Your senior prom only happens once in your life. I've played in lots of tournaments," said the second-seeded Muller, who was fighting a cold and fatigue after winning the U.S. Tennis Assn. boys' 18 National Open on Wednesday. He still managed to defeat Mark Martinez of Etiwanda and Lawrence Wang of Fullerton Troy by 6-3, 6-2 scores Friday at Seal Beach Tennis Center. He was scheduled to play third-seeded Wesley Miller of Corona del Mar at 11 a.m. today. The final is at 2 p.m.
Muller said he was concerned about getting caught in holiday traffic and did not want to feel rushed while playing.
-- Lauren Peterson