Sharks dazzle with first home playoff win since 2006

Frank Thomas (14) is congratulated by Bronson Bard (10) after Thomas scores in the 10-6 win.

Taking the field for its first home playoff game since 2006, the Malibu High baseball team wasn’t about to let the opportunity slip by without putting on a show for its fans. Playing in front of their biggest home crowd of the season, the Sharks responded with a thorough 10-6 victory against Bishop Union in the first round of the CIF Division VI playoffs.

The result marked Malibu’s first playoff victory since an 11-5 wild-card win against Salesian on May 16, 2006.

“In the playoffs you take any wins you can get,” Malibu coach Ari Jacobs said. “To get a win in a home playoff game for these seniors is big. Hopefully they will get back here to play another game.”

After a two-run first, the Sharks used an explosive six-run fourth inning to open up a lead they would never relinquish over the visiting Broncos. The team’s three lone seniors led the way. Frank Thomas batted 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored, while fellow 2013 classmates Alvaro Alvarado and Riley McMillan each went 2-for-4.

“It’s just exciting to play in the playoffs and I just want to do my part to help this team win,” Thomas said after the game.

Seven of the nine MHS batters in the starting line-up got a hit with the three seniors combining to go 6-for-11 with four RBIs and four runs scored.

“The seniors came up big,” Jacobs said. “That’s one of the greatest things about high school baseball, watching them come through after how hard they work.”

The result advanced Malibu (24-4) to play Calvary Chapel of Downey (17- 7) this past Tuesday with the winner scheduled to play on Friday against either Pasadena Poly or St. Margaret’s in the quarterfinals.

After a scoreless first inning for both teams, Riley McMillin led off the bottom half of the second inning with a walk and Chris Falk followed by reaching base courtesy of getting hit in the back by a fastball. With runners on first and second, Jacobs had Ezra Allen lay down a bunt that Bishop pitcher Cy Scott fielded and then threw past the first baseman, allowing McMillin to score the game’s first run.

Alvarado then hit into an RBI ground-out bringing home Falk and giving the Sharks a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the third, Bishop (10- 12-1) struck for a run to cut the deficit to one, but the storm was coming.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, a combination of lively Malibu bats and Bishop Union mistakes resulted in a sixrun outburst that tilted the game decisively in the Sharks’ favor.

Chase Lambert got on base through a fielder’s choice, stole second, then moved over to third courtesy of a Bishop Union wild pitch. Dylan Ross then singled to bring in Lambert. The Sharks got more help with backto- back walks drawn by Austin George and Bronson Bard, which loaded the bases for Thomas.

Thomas came through in the clutch, taking advantage of the visiting Broncos’ charity by ripping a two-run single to center for a 5-1 Sharks lead.

McMillin followed with a bloop single to right field. The Broncos right fielder fielded the ball in shallow right, but his attempt at holding Bard on third backfired when he overthrew his third baseman. The two-base throwing error brought home Bard and Thomas, with McMillin reaching third base.

Falk concluded the onslaught with an RBI sacrifice fly to center that gave Malibu a commanding 8-1 advantage after four innings.

With a seven-run lead heading into the fifth, Jacobs chose to pull starter Noah Simon and bring in Andre Simoneau. Simon had another stellar performance on the hill, allowing only one run on three hits, striking out four and walking just one batter.

“It felt good. It’s nice to have my defense behind me knowing my offense is alive at the beginning of the game. We came out really excited,” said Simon, who improved his record to 10-1 on the year.

The Broncos scored two runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh, but the Sharks were able to put two more runs up on the board in the bottom of the fifth to maintain a healthy lead. “It was a little nerve-wracking but I knew we could handle it,” Simon said. “I was more confident rather than nervous.”

Lambert had an RBI sacrifice fly and Thomas brought home his third RBI of the game with a single to close out the 10-6 win.