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BASEBALL: South City Stuns Unbeaten Half Moon Bay

Warriors keep playoff hopes alive by handing PAL Ocean-leading Cougars first league defeat.

The Score: South City 5, HMB 1.

The Star: South San Francisco junior pitcher Joey Marcucci handed visiting Half Moon Bay its first loss in 11 games in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division with a complete-game gem on Tuesday afternoon. The workhorse right-hander allowed one unearned run and six hits, all singles, to power the Warriors to a decisive victory that keeps their Central Coast Section playoff hopes alive.

The Turning Point: South City’s loud first inning against HMB ace Julian Garcia (6-2) set the tone. Center fielder Greg Bildhauer led off by blasting an inside-the-park home run to the wall in right-centerfield, punctuating it with an animated scream as he crossed the plate. No. 2 batter Miguel Diaz followed by slamming a triple to deep left-center, and one batter later Ramzy Azar drove him in by singling to left for a 2-0 lead. With Marcucci (6-5) on top of his game, that margin proved enough.

The Quote: “We just lit a fire in practice. We knew what we were up against. … We knew we had to come out from the first pitch to the last pitch to take it to this guy, Garcia. … We knew they were undefeated. We knew we had to come out right out of the gates. That was the only way we were going to come out and beat them.” – Warriors junior catcher Ramzy Azar, on the mind-set his team took into its game against league-leading Half Moon Bay.

What’s Next? South City (12-11, 6-5 PAL Ocean) plays at Half Moon Bay (18-6, 10-1) on Thursday at 4 p.m.

The Bottom Line: South City’s CCS prospects—which looked grim entering the week—received a sizable boost with the head-turning win over first-place Half Moon Bay. The top two PAL Ocean finishers receive automatic postseason bids, and the Warriors remain in fourth place at 6-5. (Capuchino and Woodside share second at 8-3 after Woodside's 10-9 win over Cap on Tuesday—and they face each other again on Thursday.) If South City can manage to complete a sweep against HMB on Thursday, it would enter next week’s season-ending series against Cap with a fair shot at earning at least a share of second with two more wins. A 4-0 finish against HMB and Cap seemed implausible before Tuesday. Upgrade that possibility to “unlikely” now.

Notes: HMB, which climbed to No. 6 this week in , cut unranked South City's lead in half in the fifth. Garcia, who singled with two outs and stole second, scored on an infield fielding error. But then Bildhauer raced in and made a diving catch to rob Tony Carlevaris of a hit and get Marcucci out of the inning. Then South City rallied with three more runs in the bottom half of the inning, capitalizing on a pair of infield throwing errors. Ryan Mohr and Joey Moro each had an RBI single. … Bildhauer’s homer was his first of the season. With that shot, he pulled into a tie with Azar for the team lead in extra-base hits, with 10. Azar’s are all doubles. Bildhauer also has five doubles and four triples. … Freshman third baseman Maligi Maluia (2-for-4 with a double) had multiple hits for the third time this year, all in the last six games. … Diaz entered with a .394 average, but only one of his 26 hits had been for extra bases. He promptly tripled in the first. … HMB’s Garcia, who surrendered five runs and seven hits in five innings, entered with a 1.35 ERA in 57 innings. He hadn’t allowed more than three runs in his previous eight starts. The senior right-hander, who struck out five, didn’t issue a walk but he did hit three batters. … Half Moon Bay hadn’t allowed more than four runs in an Ocean game before Tuesday. … Azar threw out one runner trying to steal second and picked off another at first.

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South San Francisco 5, Half Moon Bay 1

HMB – 000 010 0 – 1 6 4

SSF – 200 030 x – 5 8 1

WP: Marcucci (6-5). LP: Garcia (6-2).

HR: Bildhauer (SSF). 3B: Diaz (SSF). 2B: Maluia (SSF). 2 hits: Jenkins (HMB); Bildhauer, Maluia (SSF).

Records: Half Moon Bay 18-6, 10-1 PAL Ocean. South City 12-11, 6-5.

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