Malibu High baseball wins in dramatic fashion

They play several miles northwest of the celluloid capital of the world, but Malibu High School’s boys varsity baseball team still knows a thing or two about Hollywood endings. In a league game Friday wrought with everything from challenged home run calls to player ejections, head coach Paul Gallo and his Malibu Sharks found themselves down 8-7 with two outs and runners on second and third base in the bottom of the seventh and final inning.

Up came Malibu second baseman Brett Weinstock.

At 5-feet, 7-inches tall the second baseman was dwarfed on the field by the hard-throwing Oak Christian pitcher, 6-foot, 5-inch Joe Dembesky. But what Weinstock lacked in size he more than made up for with a two-RBI single off of the base of the wall in left-center field for a 9-8 win against the team’s division rival.

“It’s probably one of the most exciting hits I’ve ever had,” Weinstock said. “Game-winning hits are always great, especially against a rival team.”

The hit gave the Sharks (7-2, 3-0) their seventh consecutive victory and elicited praise from Gallo.

“We’ve got 10 seniors on this team so they know how to stick in these types of games,” Gallo said. “I wasn’t worried because we had runners at third base almost every single inning. This is a team that has, for the most part, been playing together since they were eight-years-old. I’ve got a team of baseball players.”

Oaks Christian (4-10, 1-3) scored the game’s first run in the top of the first inning on starting pitcher Tim Johnston’s RBI double. The run was unearned.

Malibu bounced right back in the bottom half of the first inning. Center fielder Daniel Williams led the game off for Malibu and doubled over the first base bag. He was knocked in later on an RBI single from Weinstock. Williams batted four for five on the afternoon with two RBIs, three runs, two doubles and a stolen base. He showed up on defense as well, catching a ball in center field hit over his head in the fourth inning by Oaks Christian’s Johnston.

Malibu took the lead in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Williams, but Oaks Christian had one of its two breakout innings in the top of the third. Malibu’s starting pitcher Philip Johnson had some problems with his control in the inning, walking four. Oaks Christian scored three runs in the inning, taking a 4-2 lead. Adding insult to injury, Dembesky celebrated on the field, cheering as the visibly shaken Johnson walked him home for the third run of the inning. The intensity of the game picked up from here.

Catcher Stephen Williams blistered a home run to left-centerfield with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning to make it a 4-3 game. Williams followed the home run up with a bloop double that just snuck inside the right field foul line. An Oaks Christian coach walked on the field to confront the home plate umpire, saying he believed the ball was foul. Johnson then hit an RBI double to tie the game at four. In apparent response to Dembesky’s yelp in the third inning, Johnson screamed “Let’s go!” while standing on second base.

This was followed by the most contentious hit of the game: a two-run home run down the left field line by Shark first baseman Brooks Fitch. Believing Fitch’s blast was foul, Oaks Christian fans and coaches voiced their disapproval with the home run call. An Oaks Christian coach confronted the home plate umpire again, telling him “that call might be OK with you, but it is not OK for these kids.” The ball appeared to be fair, just hooking inside the left field foul pole. The blast gave the Sharks a 6-4 lead.

Oaks Christian’s second breakout inning came in the top of the sixth, when they scored four more times to take an 8-6 lead. The key hit in the inning was a one-out, bases-loaded triple by Dembesky. The base-clearing triple was followed up by an RBI single by Oaks Christian shortstop Jimmy Dunn. Dunn was caught stealing by Malibu catcher Stephen Williams on a questionable call at second base, preventing further damage in the inning.

Malibu scored one run in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it an 8-7 game. With two outs and the bases loaded in the inning, the reliable hitting Jamie van Soelen struck out swinging. Upset at the situation, the outfielder threw his helmet in the vicinity of the Malibu dugout, causing him to be ejected from the game by the home plate umpire.

But Malibu managed to pick it up in the bottom of the seventh. With one out in the inning, Malibu outfielder Geoff Roth walked. Pitching in relief, Dembesky struck out the next Malibu batter, bringing up Malibu’s leadoff hitter with two outs. Daniel Williams singled, moving Roth over to third. Williams then stole second, setting up Weinstock’s game-winning shot to left-center. Ecstatic, the team rushed the field and celebrated with Weinstock near second base.

The most up-to-date statistical and scheduling information on the team can be found at under Malibu.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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