Antioch had two chances to win the title, needing to beat Vallejo only once to win, while Vallejo needed two wins. Vallejo answered an Antioch rally in the first game and won 11-8 on a three-run walk-off homer. Antioch bounced back, however, in the winner-take-all second game by a score of 10-7.
In the emotional first game, Antioch fell behind 7-0 after two innings but chipped away at the Vallejo lead, eventually tying the game in the sixth. Vallejo scored once in its half of the sixth and Antioch tied the game in the seventh. With two outs in the seventh, two Vallejo batters drew walks. The next Vallejo hitter hoisted the ball, it caught a gust of wind and sailing over the right-field fence, ending the game.
The game was delayed in the bottom of the sixth, when third baseman Ray Zuniga got into an altercation with a Vallejo player. Although the benches cleared, no punches were thrown and Zuniga and the Vallejo player were ejected. Both were allowed to play in the second game, which, due to darkness, was moved to the facility’s only lit field.
Despite playing at home, Antioch was declared the road team, batting first in both games after losing both coin tosses. They took advantage of that position in the second game, scoring three runs in the first inning. Vallejo battled back, scoring two runs in each of the first two innings. Antioch struck again in the fourth inning, taking a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
With runners on the corner and one out, Antioch’s Brett White was brought home on a balk, tying the game. Leadoff man Matt Smith then brought Anthony DeLuca home with a single, giving Antioch the lead. Smith eventually stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored when the Vallejo third baseman lost a popup from Josh Kellogg, who was also the winning pitcher, throwing a complete game.
Antioch extended the lead to 10-4 with a four-run sixth inning. Smith drove in Antonio Slaughter with a triple and was brought in by Kellogg, who reached third on a ground-rule-double off Zuniga’s bat. Kellogg came home on a sacrifice fly from Joey Lingenfelter and Zuniga scored when a pickoff attempt at third sailed into left field.
Antioch would need the cushion, as Vallejo rallied for three in the seventh and final inning before Antioch could put the game away. The climax fittingly came on a perfectly executed play at third base, as Zuniga tagged the runner out to end the championship contest at 11:30 p.m., six hours after the first pitch of game one.
An emotional Mario Morales, Antioch’s manager, credited his coaches with helping the team bounce back from the tough game-one loss. “I think it comes down to our coaching staff: Brandon Robinson and Jimmy Boyd,” he said. “These guys aren’t here for anybody else but this team. The coaches keep the kids in the game. The kids would stay in the game, but having someone there to back you up means a lot in an intense game like this, and they held it together.
“We worked out of it; we made some substitutions. I hope everybody got to play – that was our goal. Whether it was our last game or not, we know we’ve got 14 warriors on the field; we know someone’s going to do something. And the guys off the bench came in and contributed, and the guys that got pulled out stayed positive.”
Antioch’s next opponent is unknown. “We’re in state,” said Morales, referring to the state tournament. “We’re the district champions. I don’t know who we play next, but it doesn’t matter. Whoever they put in front of us, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”