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Golden West Knocked Out in Super Regionals

Golden West Knocked Out in Super Regionals

Huntington Beach, CA - Golden West baseball (31-14, 15-6 OEC) ended their season against the Santa Ana Dons (33-12-1, 12-9 OEC) in game five, 5-8. 

After a long and crazy weekend of baseball starting on Thursday, two teams have been eliminated from the 3C2A postseason. On May 9th, the 2024 Orange Empire Conference Champion No. 3 Golden West Rustlers earned the right to host the Super Regional round of playoffs. The host team welcomed the No. 10 Santa Barbara City Vaqueros and the defending State Champion No. 6 Santa Ana Dons. The five game weekend began with the visiting squads facing off on Thursday as the Vaqueros took game one convincingly, 18-1. One loss away from elimination, the Dons defeated the Rustlers in game 2, 3-14. 

In a two-loss elimination situation, Golden West defeated Santa Barbara City on Friday to stay alive on Friday, 16-5. Back to back home runs from Zech Samayoa and Andrew Kirchner powered the offense into a double digit victory. Alex Ramos, OEC pitcher of the year, settled in after a shaky first inning for a solid and clutch six frames to earn the win. Later in the day, the Vaqueros and Dons played an elimination game to make it to day three. A close battle took a tie game into the bottom of the eighth, 4-4. However, the defending OEC champions plated five and eliminated Santa Barbara City from the bracket, 4-9. The 3C2A Super Regional bracket came down to two Orange Empire Conference squads. No. 3 Golden West Rustlers took on the No. 6 Santa Ana Dons in a winner advances and loser goes home battle. The 2023 conference champs met the 2024 champions for a ticket to the Regional Finals. Santa Ana held the season advantage as the Dons took two of three from the Rustlers in their regular season series and won game 2 of the Super Regionals. 

The Rustlers sent out left handed sophomore Dante Jackson as an opener against the Dons while Santa Ana had right handed sophomore Alan Huerta start on the mound. Jackson could not have started the top of the first inning any better as he shoved five pitches, all strikes for three quick outs. Golden West got to work quick as Kaleb Duncan took a hit by pitch up and in for the leadoff base runner. With two outs, Andrew Kirchner put runners at the corner with a single to right center field. On a passed ball that bounced not too far away from the catcher, Duncan made a daring and bold decision to sprint home. In a diving attempt, the center fielder evaded the tag and scored the first run of the game, 1-0. Santa Ana immediately tied it with a solo home run to right center from Mathew Dobson, 1-1. The Dons would take their first lead of the afternoon from a RBI double off of the left field wall by Brady Shrank, 1-2. Santa Ana extended their lead from back-to-back two out RBI doubles, 1-3. 

In the fifth, the Dons continued to hit as they tallied three runs off of three hits and an error by the Rustlers defense, 1-6. It was not until the bottom of the eighth that the Rustlers made it interesting. Robert Castillo led off the inning with a hard hit single into left center and Rocco Caballero was hit by a pitch. Duncan continued the rally with a single up the middle to load the bases for Ayden Garcia. The catcher hit into a fielder's choice but collected an RBI, 2-6. Samayao followed with a clutch double down the left field line to make it a two run game that erupted the Rustlers dugout and bleachers, 4-6. However, Santa Ana pulled away again in the top of the ninth to add two more, 4-8. It was unreachable for the Rustlers bats as they scored one but fell to the Dons, 5-8. 

Golden West ended an incredible 2024 season in which the team was crowned Orange Empire Conference title champions. In his third year at the helm, Head Coach Drew Ramos earned the program's third conference championship in the heavily competitive OEC. The Rustlers high power offense led the conference in home runs with 52 and the pitching saw a massive improvement from the prior season. Nine members of the team were recognized in the All-OEC team awards with Head Coach Ramos leading the pack. Jack Salmon earned co-player of the conference with his consistently dangerous bat and glove in right field. Alex Ramos won pitcher of the year with his nine wins. Outfielder Duncan and designated hitter Samayao earned first team honors. Jack Smith, Garcia, Kirchner and R. Castillo were selected to the second team. Golden West finished the season with an overall record of 31-14 and a 15-6 first place finish in the conference. Rustlers Athletics is proud to see the success of the baseball program as Head Coach Ramos and his squad prepare for the 2025 season. 

UP NEXT: The Rustlers baseball 2024 season has come to a close with an elimination loss in the Super Regional Round.