By Michael Bower
For the third year in a row, the Rancho Bernardo High baseball team will finish at the top of the Palomar League standings.
The Broncos clinched another league crown Thursday, using the same winning formula they have all season – outstanding pitching and a ton of hitting – to beat host Poway 6-2 in front of around 125 fans.
“We were hoping to clinch it at home, but we got rained out,” said outfielder Preston Sands, who went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. “Obviously, winning the league was one of our long-term goals.”
Senior ace Matt Osborne allowed three hits and gave up two runs in the first inning, but settled down to retire 16 of the next 17 in the complete-game victory. The right-hander allowed just two hits after the first and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base.
“It’s great to win the league, but we don’t want to stop winning just because we clinched,” said Osborne, who finished with nine strikeouts. “This is just a stepping stone. We want to go on and win CIF.”
The Broncos (23-4, 11-1 Palomar League) are trying to position themselves for a high seed in the upcoming CIF San Diego Section Open Division playoffs. There are three games to go before the pairing meeting takes place on May 18.
Casey Henderson helped the cause on Thursday, smashing a two-run homer in the third inning to give the Broncos a 4-2 lead. The junior also had an RBI double in part of Rancho Bernardo’s two-run fourth inning.
“We were surprised when they scored twice in the first, but we knew we were going to get runs,” Henderson said. “Once we got those two runs in the third inning we got the momentum back.”
Poway starter Justin McSorley, who beat the Broncos to clinch the series win last year, struggled through three-plus innings. He left in the fourth trailing 6-2. The Titans got three-plus scoreless innings out of relievers Arcadio Olivo and Connor Jones, but couldn’t push any runs across against Osborne.
The Titans (13-13, 7-5) trailed 1-0 before plating two runs in the bottom of the first inning on a Tyler Nevin double. The Broncos tied it at 2-2 in the top of the second inning, when Mondesi Gutierrez came home on an error.
The second game of the series is on Saturday at Rancho Bernardo High at 10:30 a.m.