Deep into the postseason, the Bakersfield Christian baseball team had no qualms putting its young players into high-pressure situations.
Luckily for the Eagles, the moment wasn't too big for their underclassmen on Wednesday.
Relievers Brock Redenius and Mason Brassfield were inserted into bases-loaded jams in back-to-back innings, and each pitcher escaped unscathed, and the Eagles rode a big fourth inning to a 5-1 win over Morro Bay in the Division IV Central Section Baseball Championship semifinals.
Things got thin immediately for BCHS pitchers, as starter Toby Twist was pulled in the third inning with tightness in his forearm. Sophomore Dylan Wilson worked a pair of scoreless innings, then got help when his offense scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth to break a scoreless tie.
It was Brassfield who got the biggest hit of the inning, driving in two runs with a double off the right field wall. Four of BCHS' runs that inning came with two outs.
The Pirates got a run back in the top of the fifth before chasing Wilson with the bags full and one out. But Redenius, a sophomore, escaped further damage, recording a strikeout and a flyout to end the inning.
The Pirates again loaded the bases with one out, and Eagle coach Mark Ratekin again went youthful out of the bullpen, bringing in Brassfield, a freshman.
Once again, the youngster got out of the jam. Brassfield first forced a force out at home before Manny Herrera, who moved to first base for Brassfield after the pitching change, went into a near split to dig out a throw from short stop for the final out.
“I have 100 percent faith in all of them," Ratekin said of his pitchers afterwards. "I know I can put anybody out there and they’ll do the job.”
For Brassfield, thriving in such a high-pressure situation at such a young age bodes well for the future of he and his teammates.
“It was really cool that our entire pitching staff during this game was all sophomores and freshmen," he said. "I just feel like that was a really cool experience for us to have this type of (game). I feel like now that we have the experience, I think we’d have a better shot next year and the year after that.”
But it's not just the future Brassfield is excited about, as he and his team can capture a Valley title at home against Santa Maria this weekend. Santa Maria advanced with a 7-2 semifinal win over Taft Wednesday.
“I’m just as confident (we can win that game)," he said. "I have the highest expectations for what we have coming on and I’m very excited to see what happens on Friday.”