Polytechnic Denied Second Straight Baseball Title

Polytechnic varsity baseball team f
Photo courtesy Polytechnic School
Polytechnic varsity baseball team f
Photo courtesy Polytechnic School
The Polytechnic varsity baseball team fell to Palm Desert Xavier Prep, 3-0, in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 championship at the Riverside Sports Complex last Saturday. The squad, guided by head coach Nicholas Wagner and assistant coaches Stephen Gleason and Kyle Murray, includes Franco Alonso, Maxi Alsoufiev, Van Fichtner, Thibeaux Hirsh, Samuel Howell, Edward Konjoyan, David Mathias, Jason Mayo, Sean McTigue, Jacob Shafia, Jacob Sherwindt, Trent Steele and Robert Wilson.

The Polytechnic varsity baseball team found itself in familiar territory at the Riverside Sports Complex last Saturday. The Panthers were playing in the same field where they captured their CIF Southern Section Division 6 title one year ago.
Unfortunately for Poly, this year’s outcome was a different one as Xavier Prep of Palm Desert upset the No. 1-seeded Panthers, 3-0, in the Division 5 championship game.
“Obviously, it didn’t end the way everyone dreamed,” said Poly’s first-year head coach Nicholas Wagner. “It was a fantastic season. Our players showed a ton of growth from the first game until the last one. That’s what you hope to see from a team that is young and inexperienced. You want resilience and growth.”
The Panthers (19-4 overall record) certainly showed that resiliency in the final inning. Sean McTigue singled and two of his teammates walked to load the bases for Franco Alonso. With two outs, the senior standout hit a high fly ball above the catcher. The ball began going toward the field and landed in fair territory. As Xavier Prep catcher Alejandro Brito backed up, he ran into McTigue and the umpire called interference on the runner.
McTigue was shocked by the call, as was the Poly dugout.
“That’s just a really tough spot for anybody to be in,” Wagner said. “Our hitter Franco hits a sky-high catcher’s pop up. Anyone trying to field a pop up like that knows it’s difficult because of the spin. It began to drift back from foul to home plate. We had bases loaded and two outs. Our runner needed to touch home plate. So Sean was trying to make sure he was safe and had a lane. The catcher made one last-ditch back pedal and clipped him. That’s unfortunate. It’s a tough situation. I don’t blame Sean at all for trying to go around him. It’s just a crazy accident.”
Despite the controversial call, Wagner credited the Saints (16-13 overall) for their solid pitching, which kept his hitters off balance.
“Xavier Prep had a great game plan against us,” Wagner said. “Their first pitcher made pitches for strikes. We did a good job of making him work with plenty of guys on base and stealing bases, but it comes down to who gets that one big hit. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it.”
The Saints got on the board in the top of the fourth when Robert Arzano hit a run-scoring single to left. Seth Mattox, who doubled to get on base, scored minutes later on a wild pitch from Alonso, who was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs in four innings of work.
Xavier Prep’s starter allowed only one hit in 4 2/3 innings. Saints ace Mattox picked up the save.
“Baseball is a tough game, especially for the hitters,” Wagner said. “We fought hard. That last inning, we felt we were getting there. We felt like we were in a good spot in the end. One game shouldn’t define our season.”