Some called it a wake-up call. Others called it a letdown. But after Mission High School failed to clinch an outright San Francisco B Division title Thursday afternoon, one thing became clear: Now it’s time to move on.
The Bears lost 7-1 to Marshall in the second game of a home-and-home series. The result leaves the teams tied atop the division at the end of the regular season. Both will move on to the playoffs, but Marshall will receive the higher seed by virtue of a statistical tiebreaker.
“Hopefully this will be a bit of a wake-up call,” said Mission coach Dan Grossman. “You hope that this gets the players’ attention, but with a young team like this, you just don’t want their confidence to be crushed.”
Mission was riding high after clinching a share of the title with a 10-2 win over the Phoenix on Wednesday, and the Bears controlled most of Thursday’s game, taking a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning. But that’s when Marshall took charge, leading off the inning with a pair of doubles that each led to runs. After the heart of Mission’s lineup failed to produce any runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Phoenix blew the game open in the seventh and final inning, scoring their last five runs.
“We really wanted this after losing to them yesterday, and we didn’t lose concentration today,” said Marshall coach Gerald Rankin. “We just didn’t give up.”
Mission pitcher Ryan Mullaney dominated the first five innings, allowing few scoring opportunities and rising to the challenge when hitters reached base. Mullaney also scored the Bears’ only run on an Erick Toruno double in the fourth.
But ultimately, it wasn’t enough.
“We’re just a family, and we knew we could do this,” Marshall’s Andy Fang said. “We trust in each other, and now, we’re peaking at the right time.”
For Mission, this marks its second consecutive division championship, although it’s the first one the Bears have had to share.
“It’s really disappointing,” said David Osborn, Mission’s loud-mouthed, ponytailed and supremely talented center fielder, of the Bears’ failure to clinch the title outright. “But our team has come a long way.”
Indeed. By leading the Bears to the playoffs in his first two years as coach, Grossman has helped reverse a long history of losing. Now, he thinks the program is right on track toward establishing a winning tradition.
“We did what we wanted to do this season,” Grossman said. “I wanted us to go undefeated in our division, and we didn’t quite get that, but as far as our main expectations, we’ve met them.”
Now the Bears turn their attention to the second—and more important—portion of the season.
“We can really do some damage in the playoffs,” Osborn said. “People underestimate us. But we always come back and fight.”