Even after loss to No. 1 Sutter and its ace pitcher, Hughson still alive in Section baseball playoffs

After falling 4-1 to top-ranked Sutter on Monday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V baseball semifinals, fourth-seeded Hughson can be certain of one thing – it won’t have to face Jagger Beck again if the best-of-three series goes to a third game on Thursday.

Beck, a 6-foot-6 junior right-hander who already has committed to the University of Hawaii, overpowered Hughson, striking out 11 while allowing only two hits in seven innings.

“That was probably the most talented pitcher I’ve seen since I’ve been coaching,” complimented Hughson Coach Charly Garza. “He’s long and lanky, and he was throwing 91 miles per hour. … We faced some other guys last year throwing the same velocity, but those guys were wild. If they weren’t throwing strikes, they were missing badly. This guy was around the zone. When he missed, he was barely missing.”

The good news for Hughson? Beck threw 98 pitches. High school rules require a pitcher to rest for at least three days if he throws more than 75 pitches – meaning Beck won’t be eligible to pitch again against Hughson.

“So he’s done for the series,” Garza said. “I told the boys we accomplished one of our goals.”

The series – which matches two teams with the Husky mascot -- resumes Wednesday in Hughson at 4 p.m. Caleb Wilson will start for Hughson (22-5). A third game, if needed, would be Thursday afternoon in Sutter.

Sutter (21-5-1) gave Beck all the runs he would need by scoring three times in the bottom of the second inning against Robert McDaniel. A Hughson error, a couple of walks, a bunt single and some softly hit balls that found holes in the Hughson defense proved too much to overcome.

“They’re very disciplined at the plate,” Garza said of Sutter. “You can’t give a team like that free passes because they’re very fast and they bunt well. They put a lot of pressure on a defense. It’s a hard lineup to face, but I thought Robert did a great job. Other than one hit in the gap in the sixth inning, the contact he allowed was not loud.”

Sutter tacked on another run in the sixth inning to make it 4-0. Beck, meanwhile, was cruising. He allowed a base hit to J.C. Lupercio to start the game, then didn’t give up another hit until the seventh, when McDaniel connected for a solo home run.

With the series moving back to Hughson on Wednesday, Garza is confident his team will do what’s needed to force a Game 3.

“Caleb will be pitching. We’ll be at home,” he said. “I expect us to come out loose and hit the ball. Sutter has three other pitchers who are about the same. All I know is that the rest of their guys aren’t throwing 91.”

In the other semifinal, No. 3 Bradshaw Christian (21-5) of Sacramento clobbered No. 2 Colfax (21-5) 16-5 in the first game of their series Monday. Those teams also play again Wednesday. The winners of this week’s two series will play one game for the Section Division V title on May 26 at Islanders Field in Lathrop.