It's the moment every coach dreads. It's that post-game speech following a playoff loss.
It can be an emotional time, the sudden end to a season. It usually ends in hugs and often in tears.
For Los Banos High baseball coach Pat Fuentes, it came on Thursday afternoon after the No. 4 seeded Tigers fell to No. 5 Sierra 4-2 at Los Banos High.
"That's something you don't prepare for," Fuentes said. "You hope that it doesn't come, but baseball is a lot like life. You don't always succeed."
The last two seasons ended abruptly with first-round losses for the Tigers in the postseason. Last year Los Banos entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in Division IV and were bounced after a 3-2 loss to No. 9 Colfax in the first round.
Los Banos (18-6-1) was able to get over the first-round hump this season with a 2-1 win in 10 innings on Tuesday afternoon against Pioneer.
"They all hurt," Fuentes said. "I can't say it doesn't. We won a playoff game this year. The last two years we lost in the first round. It is taking a step forward. When we look back at the season in a week or two, we'll be able to appreciate what we did."
The Tigers ran into a team in Sierra that made Los Banos earn everything it got. The Timberwolves were flawless on defense and Sierra left-hander Slyder Blyth walked only one batter in going the distance.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves were able to take advantage of some over aggressive plays in the outfield by Los Banos that turned into extra bases.
The first play came in the third inning when Ty Kiser hit a sinking line drive that Tigers center fielder Landon Ramos tried to make a play on, but the ball skipped past him. Kiser ended up on third base with a run-scoring triple as JT Ortiz-Martinez scored from first. Kiser eventually scored on an RBI single by Jessie Ortiez-Martinez to give Sierra a 2-0 lead.
"We knew this is how the game would be," Fuentes said. "The team that made the least mistakes would win. We had a couple balls, I can't get mad at effort plays by our kids. We made a couple mistakes that came back to bite us."
The Tigers fought back with a run in the third on an RBI double by Trent Mallonee that plated Ramos to cut the lead to 2-1.
Los Banos then manufactured a run in the fourth inning as Vincent Alvarez led off the frame with a single. He was sacrificed to second base and moved up to third on a wild pitch and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Tre Augustine to center field to tie the game at 2-2.
The Timberwolves (17-9) regained the lead with two runs in the sixth inning on a run-scoring double by pinch-hitter Mateo Molieri and an RBI single by Chase Sperbeck.
The Tigers had opportunities to score late.
Mallonee appeared to hit a liner that would fall in for an RBI single in the fifth, but the ball hung in the air for Sperbeck to catch in center field and he was able to double off a runner at second base to get out of the threat.
After a leadoff single in the sixth, Alvarez launched a ball deep off of Blyth that looked like it might carry over the fence. However, Sperbeck twisted and turned in center field and made a great catch just in front of the fence.
"I knew it was deep, but I didn't think it was going out," Alvarez said. "They were playing deep. It's a tough blow to see him catch the ball, especially in a situation you know you can possibly tie the game."
The Tigers were able to get the leadoff runners on in the sixth and seventh inning, but weren't able to push across any runs.
Los Banos could get another shot at a postseason run next year. Only three of their starters in Thursday's lineup were seasons. So the Tigers return many of their players, including three of their top pitchers in Kody Cardoza, Sebastian Luna and Ramos.
"That's what we'll look forward to after this time of hurt," Fuentes said. "I really like the future of Tiger baseball. The last five years our coaches have worked hard. It's nice to have kids who have bought in."
Woodcreek 5, Buhach Colony 3 in Roseville – The Timberwolves scored five runs in the first two innings and held on for the victory in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.
Dennis Boatman picked up the win for Woodcreek, pitching into the sixth inning. Boatman didn’t allow a hit, but walked six batters.
John Trujillo pitched well in relief of Buhach Colony starter Alex Kendrick. Trujillo didn’t give up a run in 4 and 1/3 innings pitched.
Jake Sapien had a hit and an RBI for the Thunder (20-9).
Exeter 4, Chowchilla 3 in Exeter – The Monarchs scored two runs late to defeat the Tribe in eight innings in the Central Section Division IV playoffs. Austin Hickman went the distance for Chowchilla, striking out six and giving up only one earned run.
Logan Gomes had two hits, stole two bases and scored a run for Chowchilla (15-13).
Stone Ridge Christian 3, Ripon Christian 2 in Stockton – Emma Eastman went the distance in the circle, giving up just two hits and striking out nine to help SRC punch their ticket into Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII championship game.
Stone Ridge Christian will face Ripon Christian for the title at 12:30 p.m. at the Arnaiz Softball Complex.
Eleanor Nelson had a hit and scored a run for Stone Ridge Christian.