Palomar’s baseball team came up big in an extra-inning 7-6 win Saturday.
The Comets (16-18, 13-10 conference) won in 14 innings in their second-to-last home game of the regular season against the Grossmont College Griffins (11-10). Tommy Cheek singled with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 14th to finally get a win for the Comets, who are still a game behind first place in their conference standings.
The Comets came back from three deficits of three, five and one, but then gave up a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth. The game was then sent into extra innings.
“I think we did a good job with damage control,” manager Buck Taylor said. “Early we were flat, and later in the game we were a heck of a lot better.”
The game started off badly. Starter Clayton Voechting hit the second batter of the game, and the next batter, Dallas Seidel, hit a two-run homer to right field. Later in the inning, Voechting hit another batter, but the two runs were all Grossmont got.
In the second, Palomar’s infield made two errors resulting in another run for Grossmont.
Casey Munoz hit an RBI single to drive in the Comets’ first run of the game in the third.
Voechting got himself into a jam in the top of the fourth, though. He allowed three singles to load the bases and then hit another batter to drive in a fourth run for Grossmont. Kyle Montiel was brought in to pitch with only one out, and though Grossmont got another run in the inning, Palomar got out of it thanks to a rundown between first and second.
“Montiel came in and did an outstanding job,” Taylor said. “He kept us in the game.”
Down 5-1, Palomar began chipping away at Grossmont’s lead. Palomar earned one run in both the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings, and then got two runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game. In the bottom of the eighth, Nico Garbella hit his fourth straight single in the game and drove in the go-ahead run.
Closer Nick Charmichael came in for the save attempt and instantly ran into trouble. He allowed a single and a walk before the tying run came in on an error. The game then went into extra innings. Rusty Edwards pitched all four extra innings for the Comets, shutting out Grossmont.
“Best performance of the day by far is Edwards,” Taylor said. “For that kid to come in and make them look silly at times, it was great.”
Edwards said that he experienced something new in pitching inning after inning while waiting for his team to score and not knowing when the game would end.
“It gets kind of tough after a couple innings pass, but you just gotta keep with it,” he said. “You can’t give up on your team.”
Palomar got a runner on base in both the 11th and 13th innings. But it was in the 14th that they finally broke through. With one out, Reggie Jones singled, Munoz doubled and Audie Afenir was intentionally walked to set the stage for the walk-off theatrics. With the bases loaded, Cheek hit a sharp single to to center field to drive in Jones.
“Huge hit by Tommy,” Taylor said. “He had been struggling all day, and I thought about squeezing right there, but we said just let him hit. Good team effort.”
Cheek was 1-for-6 before he got the walk-off hit.
“I was trying to look for something up to get a pop fly to score the guy from third,” he said. “That’s really all I was thinking.”
Garbella went 5-for-7 in the game with two RBIs. Munoz had two singles, a double and drove in two runs.
“If I’m trying to do too much, to try to win the game with one swing, that’s usually when I start getting out and my mechanics start getting messed up,” Garbella said. “So I wasn’t trying to do too much.”
Palomar next plays at 2 p.m. Tuesday at home against San Diego Mesa.
“We’ve got to continue what we’ve been doing for the past few weeks,” Jones said. “Work as a team.”